Daily Archives: December 9, 2015

How to Flatten the Power Pyramid

I find it rather imperative to give my two cents on clarifying Dr. Waisbord’s mention that theories of development communication have been generally segmented by focusing on informing the population versus ameliorating power inequalities. But it’s not a “versus” thing. You can’t compress a power pyramid without cultivating the foundation through education, and as a pyramid geometrically is, the top and bottom are linked. To be concise, any sort of revolution, adjustment or transformation must begin with a purpose or incentive; why change? And those three little letters that spell out the glory of curiosity, “w-h-y,” is satisfied with information. Step two, yet inextricably linked, is establishing a voice in power that speaks for the masses, not to the masses.

On the topic of corruption, for example. From two-years of living within a blatantly corrupt developing country where the gap between rich and poor was more like a trench, I stewed on coming up with a technique to address this issue. On the one hand, is the power; the post-dictatorial rich taking advantage of the uneducated masses. On the other hand, is the ill-informed population; a people residing in the repercussions of having been repressed by the past dictator, who are thus resigned to float along and deal with the waves, but out of fear, not to make any. At this point in Paraguay, the rich almost don’t care if their devious dealings are “found out” because there is no one to penalize the greed since their comrades float in the same boat. And the poor, which is generally the classification of the average citizen, are resigned. You can only endure so many labyrinths before you give up and decide to while away life on your dusty porch drinking tereré.

So how does an uneducated people progress while being forced into a labyrinth of bureaucracy to achieve any inkling of change? Needless to say, it’s not going so fast.

There are two ways to approach the purging of corruption; from the top down via “bigger” power from an outside government or international organization, or from the bottom up via revolution or social evolution.

However, you can’t change a people who don’t want change. So the first step is to inform and incentivize them as to why and how change could improve their quality of live. And being that the most accessible information source, the media, via radio and television in this case, are “rich” owned and not necessarily observant of the ethical code of neutrality in journalism, a grassroots word-of-mouth (WOM) approach would be the most trusted.

But without detailing all of the developmental stipulations faced by the Paraguayan people, I will simply note that education is the instigation and nothing speeds up the WOM effect like seeing some incentive for action, which is most effective in the form of evidence of top-down change. To best motivate change we need to mutually encourage the top and bottom of the pyramid through means of communication that are most trusted; WOM at the bottom and bigger power at the top.

Incentive through information is imperative to instigate progression. But it’s not an either or situation on where do begin within one culture. One is one. And within one, everything is linked.

Domestic Causes for Concern

 

Anyone that’s spent any significant amount of time reading the work of college students knows that it often leaves much to be desired. From poor content development, poor grammar skills, lack of organization to the absence of thought borne of critical thinking, college graduates very often leave school without the basic abilities required of anyone that hopes to truly “make a difference in the world.” Being unable to analyze media content thoroughly or not knowing how to express one’s well-developed arguments has broader implications than one may realize.

Being at the top of the hierarchy established by the tenets of the diffusion of innovation theory has led many people in Western society to believe that their capabilities to optimally utilize and analyze technology and its byproducts are superior to those deemed to be a part of the “undeveloped” masses. in reality, it is often the case that these people are just as inept at critically consuming mediated content as those deemed to be intellectually and societally “undeveloped.” How can the “diffusion of innovations” theory work successfully if those at the top of the hierarchy only utilize the innovations in a superficial manner? They can’t, which is another reason that it is so important to increase media literacy skills of the well-educated. (Waisbord 5)

I aim to improve the poor state of media literacy and writing ability among post-secondary school students through a partnership with the Center for Media Literacy. This partnership will result in the implementation of mandatory media literacy and writing seminars for all incoming AU undergraduates and graduates. Students must be able to be highly discerning when it comes to consuming media content while also possessing the ability to be adaptable when it comes to the writing process. Equipping students with these skills through a participatory program such as the hands-on seminar series being proposed will better allow institutions of higher education to produce truly productive members of society for a brighter tomorrow.

Related Items:

http://centerformedialiteracy.org/about-cml

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2013/12/11/for-100k-you-would-at-least-think-that-college-grads-could-write/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/test-finds-many-students-ill-prepared-to-enter-work-force-1421432744