“Take the facts and capture the imagination of the world,” said Adrian Lovett, who leads EVERYONE, our global campaign to save children’s lives.
He was quoting Eglantyne Jebb, our founder, and said that what she’d said then proved as relevant as ever today. His inspirational speech opened Save the Children’s blogger conference today at our headquarters.
Lovett pointed out that Make Poverty History had taken a key fact – a child dies every 3 seconds – and successfully used it to capture the public’s imagination and galvanise them to take action.
Getting people to care
Bloggers can play a key role, he said, by getting people to care. He quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupery who, he felt, best summed this up: “If you build a ship…don’t assign them tasks and work. Teach them to long for the sea.”
Next up was Gareth Owen, Director of Emergencies, who talked about the important role bloggers could play during an emergency, both in spreading the message about the disaster and in conveying the effort required to reach children in an emergency. “You guys can lend us your voice”, he said. “We need help to spread the word.” After his presentation one blogger asked what she could do if she wasn’t blogging from emergency-hit areas, like Haiti. Liz Scarff, the media manager who organised the event said she often saw comments on twitter from people saying that they were just retweeting messages, and felt that couldn’t possibly be enough to make a difference. “The difference is huge – your voice becomes 10 voices and in the end we reach 10 million,” she said, referring to the reach that the #Blogadesh campaign had had.
Next participants split into workshops. In one, Colin Crowley, a multimeida journalist who has produced films and photographs for Save the Children presented a film workshop. His main tip was to tell a story through the eyes of one child or one place. Inspirational films like his have been key to generating blogger interest.
One English literature teacher, Thomas Kelly, at the event who also blogs predominantly on Africa said that he had first been attracted to Save the Children after seeing our new Born to film on TV.
“Genuine gap to be filled”
Teen fiction author Melvin Burgess gave the key note address. We are creatures of stories it seems. “Stories are the basic unit of being for humans,” he said. And he shared a story a boy had told him during his recent trip to the Congo with Save the Children. It involved a team of bonobos, a team of monkeys and a football match. Let’s just say we were one monkey down by the end of the tale.
Then he moved on to the media, which often set up an argument between two interviewees, he said, deciding in advance where the disagreement would be and the issue of debate. He spoke of his experiences of this during interviews after his controversial teen book, Junk, was published. “You can find yourself debating an issue that no one sensible would debate,” he said. “The media can be lazy and out of date and not a true reflection of what the current issues are. So with blogging there’s a genuine gap to be filled.”
Adizah Tejani agreed. “We all have the power to motivate people. We don’t all need to be fully qualified journalists to do it.”
“I wish more people could think about ways to use their public voice on blogs,” said mummy blogger Josie George, who visited our projects in Bangladesh and blogged and tweeted about them. “People can be defeatist. I want more people to be willing to take a chance. We need more things like this so bloggers realise the power they have.”