By the Editor of Othernews
In a time marked by global domination of an information system from the North, hundreds of people took up an audacious challenge: to give life to a press agency that would balance international information.
This book is a choral work initiated by its author, Roberto Savio, who founded Inter Press Service in 1964 together with Pablo Piacentini. What makes this book unique is a web of contributors of great human value from all around the world, side by side with the most active IPS journalists. All of them, albeit in different ways, were involved in this project of an “alternative and complementary” agency as defined by the leaders of IPS in the midst of the Cold War; those who in these past 48 years managed to impose the premise of making heard the voices of the voiceless.
We present here an article by Phil Harris, researcher in communications, who participated in the difficult years of IPS’s growth. According to Harris, diversity is the main characteristic “that makes this book an engaging read”. From this reading, the last fifty years of the news agency’s history emerge clearly, as lived through its main characters.
In its almost fifty years of existence, IPS has survived all sort of attacks: in many western countries it was accused of being a “KGB instrument”; whereas on the left, especially in Latin America, it was called “an arm of the CIA” or “an instrument of the Vatican and Christian Democracy” while at the same time the right was assured that it was functioning with “Gadhafi’s money”.
Over time, all these labels gradually dissipated and IPS established itself and demonstrated to be what it had always claimed to be: an instrument solely of its associated journalists from different cultures, ideologies and religious beliefs, who stubbornly insisted on informing more about processes rather than facts.
For this reason alone the book becomes a mandatory reading for those interested in using communication to create communities rather than dominating them, for understanding the history of international relations, particularly of the Third World.
This book, which testifies to the human and informative adventure of IPS, is available in two languages: Italian – I Giornalisti che ribaltarono il mondo. Voci di un’altra informazione – and English – The Journalists who Turned the World Upside Down. Voices of Another Information. Soon it will also be available in Spanish – Los periodistas que pusieron el mundo al reves. Voces de “otra” informacion. From this week, the book is available for Kindle in English. M. Dujisin. 10.08.212
You can buy it in your bookstore with the following ISBN:
Paperback: 586 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (June 25, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.5 inches
Publisher: Nuovi Mondi (January 1, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 1.6 inches
Or through AMAZON, both in the paper and electronic versions.
Below we have published Phil Harris’s contribution and links to book reviews published in the press.
Presentation of the book, by Phil Harris
This book is written by over 100 journalists of Inter Press Service (IPS) and key global players who have supported the agency over the last 50 years. It looks at information and communication as key elements in changes to the old post-Second World War and post-Cold War worlds. It provides an insight into the idealism that fired many of those who worked for the agency as well as the high esteem in which it was held by a number of heads of state and Nobel Prize laureates, among others.
Established in 1964 as a non-profit international cooperative of journalists dedicated to filling the information void between Europe and Latin America, IPS gradually expanded its outreach to other areas of the Third World and a number of major industrialised countries, and set itself the daunting task of putting the peoples of the South on the international map. In what many outsiders saw as a utopian enterprise, IPS was soon making it possible for the voice of the voiceless to be heard.
IPS has always believed in the role of information as an agent of change and a precondition for freeing communities from poverty and marginalisation. Its historic mission has been to act as a communication channel that privileges the voices and the concerns of the poorest and creates a climate of understanding,
accountability and participation around development, and between South and North. To accomplish this mission, the IPS journalists who have contributed to this book – and the hundreds of others who helped the agency gain international recognition – gave priority to reporting the processes behind the facts, offering a privileged window on a changing global scenario.
Much has changed in almost half century, but not the inequalities and imbalances that gave birth to the agency. However, as some of the contributors note, while new media and new forms of communication are bringing with them new dangers of alienation and discrimination, they also offer new opportunities for making the process of communication a truly horizontal exchange among peoples and nations.
IPS has now become the agency of global civil society, with more than 20 million pages read each month on the Web. In the words of Roberto Savio, founder of the agency together with Pablo Piacentini, “millions of young people use the Web to forge alliances and take action at the local, national and international level. Their networks are based on common values, on ideal choices, and on global issues ranging from the environment to human rights, from gender roles to democratic participation.” These new actors fighting for a different world are the hidden voices of yesterday – and they take the vision of IPS recounted by this book’s contributors to a higher and wider level.