Chal­lenge is to find the sto­ries

The me­dia have a crucial role to play in the de­vel­op­ing world, par­tic­u­larly the Brics coun­tries, says

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Of that, over 3.6bn, about 40% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, live in five coun­tries – Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa.

This is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to be part of a vi­sion to lift bil­lions of peo­ple out of poverty, to show that de­vel­op­ment can hap­pen with col­lab­o­ra­tion; af­ter all, it is col­lab­o­ra­tion, the shar­ing of ideas and im­ple­men­ta­tion of this vi­sion, that can change the world for the bet­ter.

The me­dia are a pow­er­ful and in­flu­en­tial force.

Some will con­tinue paint­ing Brics na­tions in a bad light, high­light­ing slow de­vel­op­ment and cor­rup­tion, whether fac­tual or per­ceived.

Some will show up coun­try dif­fer­ences as schisms, in­stead of dif­fer­ences in poli­cies. Brics coun­tries are, af­ter all, five na­tions with dif­fer­ing pol­icy frame­works and views. None of that is con­tested. I see, as you sit here, your pas­sion for jour­nal­ism and me­dia in its en­tirety and how you can chan­nel that pas­sion into Brics sto­ries.

I get very ex­cited when I see con­tent which gets to the heart of the mat­ter, where we give a voice to the peo­ple whose lives are im­pacted ev­ery time Brics cuts red tape and works to­gether to build in­fra­struc­ture.

Ev­ery time that hap­pens, lives change. The chal­lenge is ours to find those hu­man sto­ries which show how ef­fec­tive Brics can be.

I am not ad­vo­cat­ing that all sto­ries should be pos­i­tive. Brics coun­tries must be held ac­count­able for all their ac­tions, good or bad. It is the role of the me­dia to high­light both. It is the me­dia which have the strength and the power to in­flu­ence pol­icy change.

Nige­rian au­thor Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie said: “Many sto­ries mat­ter. Sto­ries have been used to dis­pos­sess and to ma­lign. But sto­ries can also be used to em­power, and to hu­man­ise. Sto­ries can break the dig­nity of a peo­ple. But sto­ries can also re­pair that bro­ken dig­nity.”

Barends is In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s chief of staff and a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at the Sekun­jalo Group. This was her mes­sage at the Brics Me­dia Fo­rum in Bei­jing, China this week.

PIC­TURE: MOTSHWARI MO­FO­KENG

In­de­pen­dent Me­dia chief of staff Ze­naria Barends ad­dressed del­e­gates at the Brics Me­dia Fo­rum in Bei­jing, China. She said it was vi­tal the me­dia con­tin­ued to shine a light of hope and em­pow­er­ment in Brics na­tions.

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