Jeanne Bourgault: Empowering Community Through Local Media

Jeanne Bourgault: Empowering Community Through Local Media

President of Internews Network on the power of information to make social progress.

People really treasure and cherish community and media brings that community together.

Exhibit A supporting the case that information transmitted at near instantaneous speed can change the world? The Arab Spring, where Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, laptops, and smartphones empowered an interconnected populace to blow the manhole cover off decades of oppression. What transpired in Tunisia and Egypt—and what is continuing to transpire across the Arab world—is that communication remains one of the basic tenets of any civilized society. Still, for nearly half the planet, the promise of this revolution is not fulfilled. That’s why organizations like Internews Network, an international nonprofit dedicated to empowering local media worldwide, are so critically important. “Our programs are as diverse as the countries in which we work, but they’re all based on a simple idea: if people have access to locally produced, locally relevant information, it improves their lives and empowers their communities,” says Jeanne Bourgault, President of Internews Network. Founded in 1982, the organization is actually not a news agency. Rather, it trains upwards of 10,000 people every year in journalism and news production. In much of the developing world, where many locals don’t have electricity, let alone a television set, radio is the biggest purveyer of essential, local information. “The radio stations are covering issues about child maternal health, about education opportunities, and literally women go to clinics after these stories air and it saves their lives, it saves their babies lives,” says Bourgault.

TakePart travelled to the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England, to pick the brains of the worlds biggest thinkers. These Innovators in Action are changing the face of the future with bold new ideas and profound enthusiasm. Motivated by personal experience and fueled by the hope that things can get better, these innovators—each of them true social entrepreneurs—are improving our world, one brilliant business idea at a time.

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