December 1, 2004—On Thursday, November 18, about two weeks ahead of World AIDS Day, the World Bank and partners launched the new AIDS Media Center (AMC) - an online portal for helping media professionals cover HIV/AIDS. Journalists, several Media Center institutional partners -- and Bank staff were in attendance as Communications Director, Gerry Rice hit the launch key, along with AIDS Media Center Manager, Anthony Bloome, and other colleagues from the Human Development Network of the Bank.
|Keith Hansen speaks about what needs to be|
done in the fight against AIDS at the launch
The AIDS Media Center is targeted primarily at media professionals (ie. journalists, broadcasters, and executives) and strives to improve the quality, consistency, and professionalism of global HIV/AIDS coverage; increase the impact of HIV coverage; and raise the profile of media as recipients for national and international HIV funding.
The AMC features: breaking and embargoed news (as available); links to partner content pages; tools and resources for journalists, such as listing media and HIV training events and content and multimedia resource libraries; interviews with HIV opinion leaders and media specialists; and e-newsletters. While a good portion of the AMC is available publicly, upcoming site features will be password protected for exclusive access by credentialed media professionals.
To critics, this new tool may seem indirect, or ineffectual in what appears to be a futile fight against a raging epidemic, but as Manager of the World Bank's Actafrica Program, Keith Hansen, poignantly noted, “Nothing spreads HIV faster than silence.” And it is the media which is empowered with a voice.
|AIDS Media Center Manager Anthony Bloome explains|
the purpose of the AIDS Media Center before
launching the site
"It has become clear in recent years that the media can either help or blunt the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Phil Hay, Communications Advisor for the World Bank’s Human Development Network. "In countries which have successfully fought the disease, a vibrant and independent media have played a critical role in that success. Yet, in other countries where the disease marches on unchecked, the media have perpetuated stigma, spread inaccurate or harmful messages, and have failed to engage with their communities about these issues."
Two AMC launch-day related events helped highlight the importance of the role of media in this regard.
Prior to the actual launch ceremony, guests attended a multi-country video-conference, titled “Media Matters: The Role of the Media in Combating HIV/AIDS,” in which issues such as – the role local media organizations and professionals play in reporting stories on the epidemic, and the challenges, success stories, and possible sources of funding – were discussed. The dialogue that resulted from this video-conference was rich, with over 75 media professionals from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia participating via video, and also included participants from studios in Geneva, London and Washington, D.C.
|Left to right: World Bank Communications Advisor,|
Phil Hay; UNAIDS Communications Advisor, Mahesh
Mahalingham; PANOS Program Director for HIV/AIDS,
That afternoon, Phil Hay moderated a Media Matters: Experts' Roundtable Panel on the same subject matter. Institutional representatives from the World Bank, several leading media organizations, and Mahesh Mahalingam, a Communications Adviser with UNAIDS, participated in a lively exchange sharing their thoughts and experiences on local and global media coverage of this important topic.
The excitement and pride over the launch of the AMC also extended beyond Bank walls on the 18th because it is not solely a World Bank project, as Anthony Bloome pointed out, "What's really exciting about the AIDS Media Center initiative is the coming together of so many organizations -- media and HIV-content focused -- to better serve media professionals in developing countries. Our current site contributors include: BBC World Service Trust, International AIDS Economics Network, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Internews, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Kaiser Family Foundation, OneWorld International, PANOS, UNAIDS, and WHO."
These core partners contribute to the AMC by feeding content directly to the site, participating as part of an informal advisory board, assisting with AMC site outreach and marketing, and providing thematic and topical expertise.
Please visit the AIDS Media Center website, at www.aidsmedia.org.
A description of the the November 18th AIDS Media Center launch events can be found at http://www.aidsmedia.org/content/news/detail/528 .
The AMC Launch and Experts' Roundtable Panel can also be viewed online through the World Bank’s B-Span at: