Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dispersing Information and Tenacity

Edited by Ellen Schnier

by Jeff Bennett
Photo courtesy of USC School of Medicine
Boy effected by Chagas Disease

Interestingly, in my pursuit of a career in journalism, I want to help improve the plight of the impoverished in Latin America. Therefore, I have contemplated what I would personally do to improve the lives of people in the Third World before.

Journalists can use the power of communication to bring awareness to an issue in which many people were previously oblivious to. For example, investigating and reporting instances where a region lacks potable water, sewage drainage or where infectious diseases are commonly spread through insects can help governmental and non-profit organizations assemble the proper knowledge and manpower to help those in need. Often those who can help simply need the information that journalists are able to discover through their investigation of impoverished areas.

The spread of information is vital for those affected by poverty. In Ecuador, a potentially fatal illness called the Chagas disease is spread by insect bites but is easily prevented by building a brick house with proper window seals instead of an adobe home. In the span of 10 years, almost 25 percent of the illness has been reduced in particular coastal and Amazonic regions among the nation’s poor simply because they are now aware of how to stop the bugs from entering their homes. Stopping the spread of Chagas is a big initiative, and journalists have played a crucial role by informing the citizens about how to protect themselves from the bugs. This is exactly how journalists can play a role in the lives of those underrepresented in the Third World.

I personally believe the most important role a journalist can perform in helping to stop poverty is bringing it to attention.

I’ve always believed in trying to represent those in dire need, but this course has taught me the tenacity and relentlessness necessary to make a difference. As for helping people in nations that U.S. policy disagrees with, call me naïve, but I believe grassroots organizations, non-profits, NGOs and benevolence exists to help those people. Politics too often comes between helping those who truly in need and actual assistance. This was obvious when the United States gave nearly a billion dollars and weapons to Afghanistan in the 1980s to stop the spread of Russia, but failed to give even one million dollars to rebuild the schools and infrastructure of the destroyed nation. Today, giving money to Afghanistan to rebuild its nation is still considered a faux pas but is necessary to aid those subjected to poverty and cruelty by a repressive regime. Overall, politics should not play a factor in who receives aid, and journalists must be tenacious enough to realize this.

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