Monday, November 28, 2011

How to use media for advocacy, activism

Since activism is a means of changing and shaping public and government agenda, mass media with a massive reach is pivotal in passing their messages across. This vital relationship makes media to be, perhaps, the most influential tool to be mastered in making advocacy and activism a success.
Learning the use of media makes it important for advocacy.
Earlier on July this year workers at Ministry of Education in Jogoo House B, Nairobi reported to work to find their offices chained by activist protesting loss of free primary education fund. The activists jamming the corridors demanded to immediate sucking of Prof Sam Ongeri and Ole Kiyapi as the minister and PS respectively.
Lead by activist Okiya Okoiti Omtata, they managed the first use of media called creating news. Within a short time all national and international news outlets were at scene to cover the dramatic event. What thrilled the journalist was how the activists managed to bypass the security personnel at the ministry to pass the locked offices.
Equally tied to this is an activist using pegging of news through the use of famous events and international days to raise awareness of their cause. This will call for use of special editions and pullouts in the media. Caution though should be taken not to compete with other powerful news sources ands organizations.
Secondly, by having adverts on media channels without overt persuasive tone characterized in commercial ones should be initiated. The advert should raise controversy and appeal to human interests as the activists has the power to shape the message to their interest.
The only flipside of this method is that adverts are expensive and seen as biased by the audience as compared to creating news.
On the other hand press conferences, campaigns and talk shows enable activists to meet the press directly and highlight their agenda in detail and offer clarity. On meeting the press the activist should be available in person.
 Writing OpEds on newspapers is a sure way of directly reaching an audience. The OpEds should be of high quality, written in editorial guidelines of the media house and sent on time. The same article can be syndicated to all media houses at the same time (to avoid sending stale already published pieces) to increase chances of getting published.
Starting with letters to the editor an activistis can end up with a column like John Githongo (The EastAfrican), Maina Kiai (The Star) and Okiya Omtata (Nation) amongst others.
Later after a rapport has been struck with the media house, an activits can seat a the editorial board with more power to shape an agenda.
Lastly, is embracing of new media which can evade government censorship, media monopoly and reach a wider audience at a reduced cost. arab revolution this year is a good example of the power of this new channle.
Running an active website, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter accounts for sharing information and ralling support is an effective way of passing an agenda across which starts with online community before spilling to public and government agenda. a perfetc is #OccupyWallStreet tag on twiiter whicg did spread across the globe.
To wind up using sites like is also helpful to an activists. 

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