Forum from March 13th, 2000 to March 27th,
following summary serves as a recap of the discussions to date.
It's purpose is twofold: 1) to provide a quick update for those
who are just joining the On-Line Forum on Networking; and 2) to
try to address the challenge of multi-lingual interventions by
our discussants. We attempt this multi-lingual summary recognizing
that justice can not be done to the richness of the content of
the contributions to this debate.
central question of the On-Line Forum on Networking is "What
to do together, and how"?
first set of issues addressed: Roles and Responsibilities. It
was considered important to have a common base of understanding
before considering the "what and how" of collaboration
at different levels and in different environments. However, it
became evident that the distinction was not very clear, thus perhaps
it was not necessary.
summary is presented under the four broad questions, will a fifth
category: Additional Comments.
Strength & Weaknesses: What are the strengths that our
categories of members, Chair holders and Associates, bring to
Orbicom? If weaknesses do exist, how can they be addressed?
strength of Orbicom is that its membership represents many subject
areas in the field of communication as well as many sectors.
strength of an international, as well as continental, network
is the interaction with the members, regular contacts, joint projects,
mutual enrichments, response of immediate needs, and connecting
research undertaken in universities and by practitioners in the
public and private sectors.
strength is the combination of academic and practical knowledge.
unique potential (not yet utilized) is our blend of academics
and professionals, grouped in categories of chair holders and
associates. The associates have a chance to capitalize on the
research carried out by the chair holders or made available via
them. The chair holders have the opportunity to generate interest
in business and other circles for their work, to get input, not
only to their applied research, but also to their pure re search
and theory building from experienced professionals. This concept
aims at tearing down barriers between academics and professionals.
serious weakness is that each member (chair holder or associate)
believes that his or her category is the most important. This
belief is also reflected in the subject areas, as well.
The ivory towers exist. The academics in general seem to prefer
to discuss and network between themselves, while the professionals
wonder what use they might have within Orbicom, and what contribution
they might make to the network. Both communities joined the network
to assist in the development of communication research AND INTERVENTIONS
and the dissemination of its results.
weakness is that we do not really communicate across the dividing
line of theory and practice.
a solution, what we need to do is to respect our differences and
to tackle the same subjects from our different perspectives, ie
one side providing the "intellectual base, the other implementation.
Those of us who participated in the first round of exchange of
views (The Focus Group) are probably the most suitable bridge-builders
between the two spheres. We must take that responsibility very
seriously, in order not to waste a truly valuable intellectual
A Focus: If we accept that an international network is an
efficient mechanism to address the critical issues in communication,
in broad terms, where should we be focusing our energies in making
the Orbicom Network viable?
the perspective of a developing country, it is important that
Orbicom initiatives also address the needs of Developing countries.
It is important to share experiences in development communication
and other related projects in Latin America, Asia, and other regions.
Community and rural radio are considered as the most effective
media to reach a large part of the population in their respective
language. This will ensure that the message is disseminated to
specific recommendation: In the short term, a project is recommended
to compare the experiences of the use of community media in support
of development projects. Future projects could be adapted by building
on the strengths and weaknesses of these experiences.
areas for focus:
1) The results and progress in communication research that has
already been achieved by the chairs must be made available in
a suitable format to the network and distributed externally to
generate awareness of the resources possessed by Orbicom.
2) Medium term: focus on Development Communication.
for Development Communication Initiative. A proposal that Orbicom
membership mobilizes the compilation and publication of the core
literature in Development Communication. This involves the collection
reviewing, and selection of the key publications, papers, articles,
and audio-visual material that shaped the discipline over the
past three decades. The end product could be a multimedia CD-ROM
and/or web site that contains an abstracted bibliography of the
selected literature AND the complete documents and materials that
core literature will be an important tool for teaching, research,
and continuing education in the discipline by both practitioners
is recommended, however, that the methodology should be designed
together by the project team. Mechanisms will be required to evolve
a peer-review process, and the criteria for deciding what is "core"
to the evolution and growth of the discipline.
focus: Rather than analysis of the past, we should address the
future. Is a starting point a process of identifying communication
issues of the future? Communication of the new definition of sovereignty;
human rights; economic migration issues; global governance (with
NGOs?) This may give opportunities for both the thinker and the
Regional and international Joint Initiatives: Our membership
represents various communities as well as subject interest. To
ensure that we, the members, collaborate meaningfully amongst
ourselves, what do you see as concrete joint initiatives that
we could undertake, over the next two years, either on a regional
or an international basis?
respect to joint initiatives, the question remains how
best to organize this. If regional networks were established involving
associate members and chair holders, they could each define areas
of interest within the Orbicom framework. As the Membership Survey
suggested a wider base of interest than those initially listed,
this will need to be addressed to ensure that each member can
make a contribution they feel happy with and which is valuable
to them and to Orbicom. Perhaps this is best done at a regional
must be a way of going beyond some of these "solitudes",
and find a balance between intra-regional and inter-regional initiatives.
There is a great deal to learn form the experiences of community
radio in Latin America, and some of these experiences have a good
degree of transferability for actors in other regions, in West
Africa, South East Asia, and elsewhere. One of the principals
of our network should also be to contribute to this international
level of exchanges.
Orbicoms current financial situation, one cannot count on
regular meeting such as last years conference in Montreal
other than every five years or so. On the other hand, progress
cannot be achieved by correspondence only. We need to meet, sit
down together, understand each other better, and draw up action
plans, before we return to our home bases and continue our joint
initiatives from there.
The Secretariat: It appears that there is some confusion about
the role of the Orbicom Secretariat and what it does. Can we discuss
some of the ways in which the Secretariat can support the collaborative
programs that hopefully will develop? Given that the Secretariats
role is more than financial, what are some of the other areas
in which the Secretariat should be engaged?
There was very little discussion on this issue. This may be an
indication that there is no confusion regarding the role of the
Secretariat. In addition, it may be more appropriate to discuss
this question when we consider PROCESS in greater detail.]
addition to the financial aspects, the Secretariat should facilitate
the collaboration and organization of inter-regional programs,
many of which have already be mentioned.
Secretariat should assume a facilitating role for joint initiatives
between chair holders, associate members and other key actors
in IEC... This could involve regional meetings (either face to
face, or virtual); publications on the different theoretical models
in different sectors; and a publication on Case Studies, presenting
lessons learned. The Secretariat should also foster dialogue amongst
researchers, program managers in the field, and decision makers
in donor agencies.
Additional Comments: Regarding
the responsibilities of the categories of members
the chair holders who should begin by giving their views or what
they think. The associate members, then could do the same.
reference to the benefits of being a part of an international
network: It is much easier to participate and obtain value from
an international network, if one has already had experience formal
networking at the national or international level. This experience
permits better formulation of interest groups and group needs,
particularly when it concerns complementary or joint projects.
We should identify issues which could link us on a long term basis.
For instance, we should identify issues of concern to the Orbicom
Network for which members from a least two continents would serve
as representatives or advocates at international fora, such as
UNESCO and the WTO.
Stone & Claude-Yves Charron