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WSF and Communication: A Personal Testimony   Input43

Roberto Savio

I see with some surprise that the subject of communication has reappeared in the debate, including among historical figures. After having participated in the WSF from the beginning, on this subject, I allow myself to give a personal testimony.


To participate in an information process (distribute) or in a communication process (share), you have to be a subject, which the WSF is not, as it cannot make statements, it is just an open space.


I remember that for a long time, until Paris, the Communication commission never met. In Paris, we approved a communication plan, which the CI never took into consideration. The commission had to beg to present plans in the CI, plans that inexorably demanded an action from the WSF, in information and communication, and therefore were considered not consistent with the identity of the open space.


I remember that when donors Amnesty and Novib did an assessment to continue funding, they set as a priority an increased communication activity. This was totally ignored. I think that in addition to a lack of faith in what organizing information and communication entailed, there has been a strong ignorance about these issues.


One of the proposals for journalists to have help in covering the WSF, was that there be some resource persons (as is done in Davos) whom to contact, to understand what was happening and what the Forum’s concerns were.  This could never be done, because it was like having spokespersons. 


The media, all of them, move based on very precise criteria: the journalist who is sent costs money. S/he has to write an article where it says what is happening.

Since it is to be dreaming that a journalist understands all issues, from the environment, to the issue of common goods, not having anyone to ask for help at the WSF made a difference, the journalists treated the WSF as an object, and not as a subject. In other words, they wrote about folklore, the weird, the atmosphere, the parades, without having the ability to enter into the content. This is why we quickly lost media coverage. At the first forum in Porto Alegre, there were almost 600 media, ranging from the Financial Times, to Asashi Shimboun. When they defected in the following forum, the answer was that the bourgeois and capitalist press was the enemy, and some, whom I do not want to name, decreed that cooperating with the media was to reinforce capitalism. I still remember when a founder of the WSF said: If CNN is not interested, we create our CNN, without realizing that this was out of reality.


One of the plans of the communication commission was very simple. That each organization give us the contacts with 5 journalists in their country, like-minded people, to form a network of journalists to whom distribute information about  activities throughout the year. Of the one hundred organizations that are in the IC, we received a response from three ...


With which, tired and disappointed, I left. And the creation of an information service on global issues, to demonstrate the crisis of the system, (which was a Paris decision), I started it on my own anyway. It is called Othernews, it reaches 30,000 people in three languages in 167 countries around the world, and it is organized as a non-profit readers' cooperative. I want to add that the first recipients were the members of the CI, 78% of them canceled the service.


For this reason I am glad that, finally, the need for communication (and, I add, information) is being discussed. But my experience tells me that as long as the WSF is an object, and not a subject, in this matter, nothing will change, and if there is no awareness of the importance of communication in the IC, these so-called una tantum will not have any consequence.  But my best wishes go to the victims, women and men, who have remained in the communication commission, so that the changes that are being discussed may help them…

I do consider symbolic that, after so many calls on communication, nobody has felt the need to call a meeting on that issue…

Simply. there is no culture of communication...