Partners' Forum 2010: From Pledges to Action


Media Round Table

14 November 2010 - Media Round Table
14 November 2010 - Media Round Table

Sunday 14 November - 11.30 - 13.00


Dilip Cherian, Co-Founder and Consulting Partner, Perfect Relations

  • Usha Bhasin, Deputy Director General, Doordarshan TV
  • Lola Nayar, Assistant Editor, Outlook magazine
  • Patralekha Chatterjee, freelance writer, public health
  • Prashant Pandey, Senior Correspondent, The Asian Age
  • Aarti Dhar, Special Correspondent, The Hindu
  • Ganapati Mudur, Senior Science Writer, The Telegraph
  • Ashok Malik, freelance columnist, Hindustan Times
  • Gunjan Sharma, The Week magazine
  • Richard Horton, Editor, Lancet
  • Brigid McConville, Director, UK, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
  • Julian Schweitzer, former Chair, PMNCH
  • Flavia Bustreo, Director, PMNCH
  • Purnima Mane, Deputy Executive Director, UNFPA
  • Pavitra Mohan, UNICEF India
  • Aaron Oxley, Results UK

This session explored the role of the media in advancing women's and children's health in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, discussion focused on the role of the media in transmitting critical information to decision-makers and the public at large, as well as the role of the media in framing issues, presenting evidence and argumentation, and in holding policy-makers to account.

Key discussion points from the session included:

  • Media itself recognizes a need to “sell” stories better, and that those stories need not be just in the “health” pages. However, health advocates also need to learn to sell their stories better to the media, and have these be able to stand up to scrutiny. Advocates and the public health community at larger must understand that the media does not function as a passive "stenographer" for press releases, and that partnerships must be nurtured and supported.
  • News media is only about 20% of the entire media space, and the other 80% can be used in other ways. There is a lot of room to explore this as a new avenue to promote education and be part of the solution.
  • MNCH media stories need not be presented solely as health stories, which can be hard to sell to editors and which sometimes conceal the underlying issues (such as gender inequality). Instead, they can be presented as political/rights or human interest stories, which can not only mean more pieces are published, but also allows for issues to be explored in more depth.
  • Media must get into the field to really unpick the root causes of the problem and put a human face on the issues. It’s not only about the numbers: there is tremendous human interest that can sometime be used to highlight bigger issues that are not just MNCH verticals.
  • The media has a vital role to play as a monitor. It is critical in enforcing the accountability of programmes/government/CSOs, and this very often requires the media to be critical of data presented to it and to verify, as far as possible, the accuracy of this information by visiting the field.
  • Media has an important role in highlighting issues and driving accountability, but also in public education. Non-print media, in particular, can reach into communities with culturally appropriate and relevant information that can help educate people on MNCH issues and interventions.