Summary of Discussion - Webinar on Global C4D Association - Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Twenty-five (25) individuals representing 16 NGOs, academic institutions, bilateral institutions or other institutions came together for a first discussion about the rationale for establishing a global Communication for Development association. It was co-hosted by the Communication Initiative and UNICEF.
First, a note of apology. The WebEx platform was used for this virtual consultation. UNICEF is sorry for the poor aural and oral quality and thanks everyone for their flexibility in using the “chat” function. WebEx is being used extensively by UNICEF for consultations with far-flung participants. It turns out that beyond 7 participants, the moderator must manually “pass” the microphone to the individual wishing to speak. UNICEF and CI are open to suggestions for other platforms for future consultations. (Skype unfortunately still does not allow for many simultaneous users.)
The presentation, which participants followed on their computers, was based on a Concept Note that had been circulated prior to the webinar. Both the presentation and the Concept Note are available on the Communication Initiative’s website at http://networks.comminit.com/c4dassociation/ . The word-for-word transcript of the chat portion of the webinar is available upon request from UNICEF. A list of individuals (and their affiliations) will soon be posted as well, for ongoing updating.
Overall, participants in the webinar were positive about the idea of a global C4D association and its major components (a face-to-face meeting and the academic journal). The next key step is a face-to-face consultation which will take place on 30-31 August in UNICEF’s New York headquarters office.
Participants (in alpha order by first name) Co-chairs and organizers: Warren Feek, Communication Initiative (Victoria, B.C.) Rafael Obregon, Paula Claycomb, Patricia Portela Souza, Hayon Nam, UNICEF C4D, NYHQ Participants signed in: Anna Penido, Instituto Inspirare (Porvir) - Brazil Beth Carmona, MidiaTV (Brazil) Charlotte Lapsansky, Asian Development Bank Douglas Storey, JHU CCP (Baltimore) Eleanor Morris, BBC Media Action Harsha Liyanage, Consultant Jackie Davies, C4D Network (UK) Jesus Arroyave, Universidad del Norte (Colombia) Kadiatou Sall-Beye, International Telecommunications Union (New York office) Ketan Chitnis, UNICEF Viet Nam Country Office Mikael Rundberg and Anders Hog Hansen, Malmo University Mario Mosquera, UNICEF India Country Office Maria Protz, University of West Indies (Jamaica) Nicolas Jammes, ITU (?) N. Ramakrishnan, IdeoSync (New Delhi) Stafany (We are not sure who this is, does anyone know her?) Thomas Tufte, OreComm and Roskilde University Veet Vivarta, ANDI (Brazil) Will Banham and Brenda Campos, PCI Media Impact (New York) Winston Mano, University of Westminster (London) Yvonne MacPherson, BBC Media Action (New York office)
After welcomes, introductions and an overview by Rafael and Warren of the origins of the idea for a global membership-based association, Paula summarized the major activities, functions and core processes that an association would require.
The two major reasons to establish an association, though there are others, are to provide regularly opportunities for face-to-face gatherings and to publish a rigorous, peer-reviewed journal that would provide a critical space for intellectual, research and applied advancement of development communication and for advocacy for the field of C4D.
• Questions were raised about whether both institutions and individuals could join. There needs to be a system for institutional membership. Doug Storey pointed out that many practitioners who would would want to be involved do not have personal sources of funding. • More about membership to be discussed under “Business Model/ Ownership/ Funding.”
While participants agreed that a journal along the lines of The Lancet, Journal of Children & Media and Journal of Health Communication would be advantageous, we need to “learn from past” to understand why some journals of the past had such short lives (Thomas Tufte, Ketan Chitnis, Mikael Rundberg). One examples was the short-lived Journal of Communication & Social Change, which seemed to be dependent on its publisher. Warren and Douglas pointed out that there was no dearth of material, but the publisher couldn't manage the production process.
The target audience(s) and niche market of any new journal should be well defined. There is a need to examine other journals and review what specifically the new journal can add. Likewise, what are issues to be avoided, problems to be addressed, and other initiatives (eg the webmag ‘Glocal Times’) already underway. (Thomas Tufte)
A lively chat ensued, with comments from Ketan, Ram, Mikael, Will, Douglas, Winston and others. For example, one important issue with past and current C4D related journals is that research from the global south is not as well published as it can be. This new journal could look at filling that niche. Involvement by universities from developing and middle income countries could “make sense” too, especially in supporting local practitioners to conduct and write high quality research. The group needs to be aware that journal start-up is agonizing and quality control is always a huge challenge. The journal needs to build a reputation before academics will be interested in publishing.
A mapping of existing journals and on-line fora, including their circulation/distribution should be undertaken. Persons to consult include Scott Ratzen, given his experience with the Journal of Health Communication and Jan Servaes. Beth Carmona’s experience in the field of children and the media will likewise be invaluable to explore.
- Business Model/ Ownership/ Funding
1) Functions of the Association - The Association will resume three functions: Fundraising/ Policy Making/ Capacity Building. Wonder if we should include knowledge production as a function? (Thomas)
2) Management & Ownership
- BBC Media Action in support of this concept note in general. My qu: can you say more about the management and ownership of the association - this will be a critical success factor (Yvonne)
- It will be like any other association: Membership-based, with a Board, president/chair based on an election, formal Constitution, registration process, self-managing. Will have staff eventually. Funding will be generated from memberships & conferences. (Warren, in response to Yvonne’s comments)
3) Funding (the source of the funding)
- Will it need some grant backing, at least in start up phase? (Yvonne) - Unlikely that a membership organization can start up without an initial traunch of funding from somewhere. (Doug) - Funding issue is interesting, agree with Doug's comment. Funding gap for the organizations working on C4D wont be covered by membership fees (Ketan)
- Membership fees only as do not want this to compete with all other funding efforts from this field; plus want to stand independent of any donor (Warren, in response to the questions) - But the association will be under some organization/consortium, right? (Ketan)/ The idea is for it to be self standing (Warren) - Membership is not going to cover the association's expenses, right? And if we then look at donor grants, we ask for completely untethered grants, no strings? (N.Ramakrishnan) - As I understand it, JOHC taps UN, university and private sector resources, besides subscription fees. Scott works full time for J&J. It's subsidized in some fashion. (Doug) - In our view when we looked at this - with such a competitive and difficult fudning environment the last thing we need is to create another entity seeking funds the same place all of us seek funds - hence the principle re membership fees only (Warren)/ Building enough membership to fund both an association and a journal is likely to take years.(Doug; agreed by Ketan) - Since we are discussing funding - Rafael/Warren/Paula - has this idea of a global association/journal been pitched to any donor? A potential host for a journal, could be some Univ? Doug you may have some ideas on this? (Ketan)
4) Other comments
- We realize different events gathering producers and we feel that there is no organized space in the C4D platform to show our productions and initiatives...\It would be very important to promote our events before they happen and also after with our reflections and reports. But we need to create a friendly space for that (Beth)
- Just to take a step back from the journal discussion - I wanted to note that though there are some discussions on collaborations that take place whenever C4D practitioners meet face to face, there isn't enough of a space for active collaborations to develop between practitioners in different geographical areas. The association could create such a space, and take the cross learning process one step further by supporting/facilitating such processes (N.Ramakrishnan)
- I think the Idea of having an association is really worth discussing. But let me play the devil’s advocate. Maybe because of a personal overdose of journals and of meetings, seminars and conferences I miss some other concrete actions to present to potential associates. Maybe it is not an easy task to identify alternatives, but I think we need to try our best to address this issue. (Vivarta)
- What is the initial task/theme that will really attract attention and provide added value? (Warren)/ Definitely need a strategic plan, business plan, realistic timetable. (Doug)/ agree - is purpose of Aug meeting (Warren)
- Ketan, Jesus, Thomas, N.Ramakrishnan, Anna, Yvonne, Maria, and Jackie expressed their willingness in participate in future discussions.
- Actions to follow:
- Summary, based on this consultation
- Suggestions leading up to the Face-to-face consultation in August
- Ideation & research on Membership (Institutional, Individual), Mapping, Journals (existing journals & short-lived ones), Constitution/ biz plan
- Volunteers to work on small-group setting on the agenda above
11 July 2012