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Using State Media to Promote Democratic Development - Journal of Development Communication, Number 2, Volume 8, December 1997.
A Case Study from Central Asia
by Neil Ford
This article documented a project in Social Change Communication that supported democratic development in the former Soviet Union. The project team created a participatory methodology in which radio documentaries could be used to communicate the concerns of local people to decision-makers in the Kyrgyz Government. The project team (led by the author) trained a team of Kyrgyz broadcasters to produce "grassroots" programmes that were completely different from the Soviet-style productions of other Kyrgyz media, that usually profile the viewpoints of experts and political leaders. After these programmes were broadcast by the Kyrgyz Teleradio Corporation (KTC), the project team played them to relevant local and federal officials. The documentaries supported democratic development by providing a forum for ordinary citizens to express their opinions on local issues. Government officials, by listening and responding in focus-group sessions, also became familiar with a fundamental democratic principle: the concept that state-employed officials should respond to the concerns of their constituents, and account for local viewpoints when they define development agendas and set government priorities. The project also indicated that participatory radio programming can act as a catalyst for more efficient community development. The documentaries tended to activate their audience; after listening, many people wanted to become involved in the issue under discussion and contribute their time or skills.
Publication Type: Article / Chapter / Essay: 9 pages
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