Communication experts endorse alternative media

About 120 communication experts, meeting in Accra, have endorsed a blend of modern information and communication technologies with traditional and other alternative media forms to disseminate information for development in the globalised world.

The participants, from Africa, the Caribbeans and the Americas, served with spring water in calabash, had sat enthralled as Professor Kofi Anyidoho, a Ghanaian poet, welcomed to them into the country with a traditional poetic performance.

The six-day conference, dubbed; "OURMedia 7, on the theme: 7"Identity, Inclusion, Innovation- Alternative Communication in a Globalised World" is developing the key that alternative communication which involves a diversity of actors, voices, themes and discourses needs to flourish and take hold to create alternative worlds.

The participants, made up of academics, activists, writers, journalists and other communication practitioners from around the globe are discussing the topic through the presentation of relevant research papers, innovative workshops and various media forms including story telling, drumming and beating of gong-gongs and street art and other traditional forms of communication.

Founded in 2001, OURMedia is a global networks whose goal is to facilitate a long-term dialogue between academics, activists, writers, journalists and other communication practitioners and policy experts around citizens media initiatives, with focus on the grassroots level.

The underlining principle behind the OURMedia concept is that various forms of traditional communication with emerging communication technologies to let voices that had been drowned over years be heard.

Speaking in a video presentation, Prof John Downing, co-founder of OURMedia, observed that it was necessary to create an atmosphere of participatory media in the national development process, arguing there was no need for any further in developing appropriate communication skills and technology based on a nation's identity and its communication education system.

Prof. Downing underscored the connection between media and social movement of people who had the same interests and values which they could define openly without apology.

The challenge for communicators was to use communication to help society to diminish evil and do good, Prof Downing said, adding it was important that organisations had people who were deeply culturally sensitive, to provide solutions to crisis.

Prof Downing, who is also of the Southern Illinois based Global Media Research Centre, called for the gap between educators and communicators to be bridged.

Prof Alfred Opubor, of a leading Communication Education Expert in Africa in a discussion called for a change in the communication that was taught in the African universities.

He said there was a crisis of confidence in the use of gender which he said should mutually edify the other in the communication business.

"No matter the depth of a particular thing, and despite issues of hierarchy and experience being different, they can be can be complementary and shared." Prof Opubor said.

Dr Audrey Gadzekpo. Acting Director of the School of Communication Studies, referring the role of alternative media and the OURMedia project, said a variety of communication forms would not intimidate free expression and speech.

An integral part of our OURMedia 7 is a Community Radio Symposium at Radio in Ada, in the Dangme East District of the Greater Accra Region, which also marks the 10th Anniversary of the station, which was Ghana's pioneer Community Radio Station.