January 2015 Newsletter
Welcome to IBT’s January newsletter with a brief update on our work and relevant news from the media industry. (Print this Newsletter)
The Lobbying Act – implications for social media
Today we publish a new briefing paper for IBT members. There’s growing concern amongst NGOs about what exactly can and can’t be said in online communications, in light of the new Lobbying Act (and charity law in general). In our briefing note The Lobbying Act – implications for social media, we offer clear guidance for ways of ensuring that online campaigns comply with the restrictions placed on charities by the new legislation. The briefing recommends that all NGOs review their social media campaigning activities on a regular basis even if they decide not to register under the Act. All staff should be provided with social media guidelines and a named person within the organisation to contact for advice. The briefing does not constitute formal legal advice. A copy is attached to this newsletter – it can also be downloaded via the IBT website.
Charity Commission rules on Oxfam ‘Perfect Storm’ tweet
The Charity Commission has ruled on the Oxfam tweet which was posted in June and contained a picture of a mock poster for an imagined film called ‘The Perfect Storm’. A number of policy areas were cited and the text of the tweet suggested these were forcing more people into poverty. A complaint was made to the Commission. In its ruling it recognizes that charities are entitled to campaign and undertake political activity, but only in furtherance of their charitable purposes. Campaigning should not be party political – or perceived as such. The Commission accepted Oxfam’s argument that it had no intention of acting in a party political way but nevertheless ruled that the tweet ‘could be misconstrued by some as party political campaigning.’ The Commission said Oxfam ‘should have done more to avoid any misperception of political bias.’
Upholding charities’ independence and reputation
The NCVO has published an excellent paper, Upholding charities’ independence and reputation, with recommendations for best practice by the charity sector. The paper references the important role that charities play in campaigning and influencing public policy but says that they need to take steps to maintain public trust. One of the points made in the report is that charities should ensure that their campaigns have broad appeal to a range of political interests. The report also notes the importance of addressing public concern about charities’ financial management and the public appetite for more information about how charities spend their money.
Dissolution of Invisible Children
Invisible Children, the charity behind the Kony 2012 viral video campaign, has announced its dissolution. Most of the staff will leave and a small team will stay on, eventually handing over its African-based activities by the end of the year. Despite the initial success of the Kony 2012 campaign, the charity came under increased scrutiny. Much of its funding came from school tours in the US, but this funding model proved unsustainable, as the organization was frequently challenged to demonstrate where exactly it was spending the money that it raised.
Making Waves – media’s potential for girls in the Global South
BBC Media Action has published Making Waves – media’s potential for girls in the Global South, a review of the nature and impact of media portrayal of girls in developing countries. The report makes for fascinating reading and concludes that the media plays both a positive and negative role in terms of influencing girls’ behaviour. It recommends that media interventions designed to enhance girls’ well-being should to be better targeted.
Changing role of BBC3
The BBC has now published its detailed plan to make BBC3 an online channel. IBT has praised BBC3 in the past for its innovative record in covering current affairs, particularly in developing countries. We are concerned that the move online will mean that fewer people watch these programmes. However, in the published plans, the BBC confirms its commitment to global current affairs on BBC3 and says that, when the channel moves online, all long form current affairs programmes will be shown on BBC1 or 2 as well as on the online channel. This is good news. In future, the new BBC3 will focus on two principal genres: current affairs and comedy. It will no longer make factual entertainment shows such as Don’t Tell the Bride – these will either be cut or moved to another tv channel. There will also be new money for short films to be shown online only. The BBC Trust will undertake a public consultation on these proposals, to which IBT will be submitting evidence. At the same time, the Trust has announced a review of its network speech radio stations – Radio 4, 4 Extra, 5 live and 5 live sports extra. If you have any views which you’d like us to put forward, please get in touch.
Next briefing will be with online news and comment websites
Our next briefing will focus on online news and comment websites. We’ll be hearing from a panel of 4 editors – from Buzzfeed, Vice News, Huffington Post and New Statesman online. The editors will talk about how to pitch stories and blogs – and they’ll give advice on how online material can achieve greater exposure. This event will take place from 10-12 on Tuesday January 27th. It’s now fully subscribed – if you have booked a place and are unable to attend please let us know so that we can offer your place to someone else.
ESoDoc, the European Social Documentary project, is open for applications for this year’s scheme. It’s an innovative programme that brings together filmmakers, new media professionals and NGO film practitioners, from across Europe, who want to work collaboratively and develop new projects. The course is subsidized by the EU and includes three residential sessions in three European countries taking place over a six month period.
One World Media Awards
Entries are now open for this year’s One World Media Awards, which will take place on Thursday June 18th at BAFTA. Now in its 27th year, the awards recognize excellence in media coverage of developing countries. This year, two new categories have been launched, the Refugee Reporting Award (sponsored by the British Red Cross) and the Women’s Rights in Africa Award (sponsored by the African Development Bank). Other awards cover television, documentary, radio, press and digital media.
The Sandford St Martin Awards
The Sandford St Martin Awards have also issued their call for entries, with the announcement of a new Children’s Award. These awards celebrate tv, radio and online coverage of religious, spiritual and ethical issues.
This month we welcome two new members, Mercy Corps and Handicap International. If you know of any other organisations that may wish to join, please let me know.