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Images do move

Before television journalists around the world turn off their cameras and go home, they should reread Nik Gowing’s analysis (“Moving images”, Issue 1-1996). His premise that television does not influence foreign policy is unfounded. If television does not drive politicians, constituents who watch television do. All policy-makers are at least viscerally aware that the media affect their image. Why else would repressive regimes institute censorship? The public sentiment that results from media coverage almost always sways governments.

Strangely, after asserting that governments do not act based on media coverage, Mr Gowing points out examples to the contrary: cholera in Goma and aid to former Yugoslavia. He does not mention conflicts such as the one in Afghanistan, in which coverage and aid proportionately have slowed. Would an international peacekeeping agreement for the countries of former Yugoslavia be signed yet if the signatories had not been playing to the cameras? I doubt it. The signing itself was media fanfare!

The most publicised conflicts almost always result in an international governmental response. For example, during the Gulf War, US attention was momentarily diverted to the situation in Somalia after the American Red Cross arranged a media tour there. The public eventually catalysed political action — whether for good or ill.

In the final analysis, Mr Gowing is not asking the right question. I wonder what he would have governments “do”. He says himself governments cannot end war. The “knee-jerk” reactions he describes are based on a superficial understanding and a fickle public. Frequently, television evokes a response that makes a situation worse, not better. In the end, what motivates political response is of little consequence if the response is helpful. In his next study, I suggest that Mr. Gowing ascertain not if television creates demand that “something must be done”, but if it results in the right “something” being done for the right reasons.

Anne Brown
Rockville, Maryland, USA

 
 

A question of finance

I, and most especially my family, have been contributors to the Red Cross at a local level. My understanding is that a portion of the monies donated at the local level goes to our National Red Cross to assist in meeting the needs of our national community. My question is: How does the International Red Cross and Red Crescent obtain its funds? Do National Societies around the world contribute to the ICRC and the Federation to support our global community?

Thank you for being there for the world.

Ray Ortega, Jr.
Los Angeles, California
Received by e-mail

Ed: Yes they do. Some funds collected by National Societies also go towards the international activities of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The ICRC is financed by voluntary contributions from States party to the Geneva Conventions, the European Union, National Societies and private donors. The Federation receives statutory contributions from its member National Societies and raises its operational monies from a variety of sources, chief among them also its member National Societies.

Sharing the spirit of voluntarism

I am a first-aider from Zaire. I would like to correspond with someone in the Movement, from whatever country or nationality that may be. Please could you publish my address.

Nomi Azangwa-Bernard
Adri Boende 242
Zilingwala
Kinshasa, Zaire

I would like to suggest that you start a pen-pal column in your magazine, so that members of the Movement can exchange ideas and experiences from various chapters and branches around the world.
As a youth volunteer training officer, I need to interact with others working in the same field to exchange views on the effective discharge of our activities.

Yusuf N. Aina
Nigerian Red Cross Society
P.M.B. 21
Nguru Yobe State
Nigeria

I have been a volunteer participant in the Ethiopian Red Cross Society with the Arsi-Robe branch for several years. I’m also chairman of the youth club which provides a variety of services, including ambulance, tree-planting, blood bank, hospital and first aid.

On the principle of universality, we would like to correspond with other Red Cross or Red Crescent youth societies around the world.

Teferi Negussie
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society
Arsi-Robe Red Cross Branch
P.O. Box 1
Arsi-Robe
Ethiopia

 


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