TVE Asia Pacific announced its new Children of Tsunami regional media project at a high level gathering of Asian and international broadcasters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on May 10.
The project, which has been in the making for four months, is the regional organisation’s journalistic response to the devastating Asian Tsunami that hit the region on 26 December 2004.
Over 300 broadcast managers and CEOs from 60 countries attended Asia Media Summit 2005 at the Malaysian capital from May 9 - 11. It was organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, AIBD.
The Summit was opened by Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.
“The tsunami was the biggest story in Asia in the past year, and it’s far from over,” said Nalaka Gunawardene, Director of TVE Asia Pacific introducing the project at the Summit. “Months and years after the media’s spotlight has moved on to other events, the story will continue to unfold for millions of Asians affected. Ours is an attempt to stay on with these stories'.
He described the multi-country project as ‘an open-ended experiment that takes us beyond the comfort zone of conventional television journalism’.
Children of Tsunami
- Filmed at Tsunami’s Ground Zero.
- In 4 hardest hit Asian countries.
- Involving 8 children, families and communities.
- Over 11 months: Feb – Dec 2005.
- Featuring dozens of stories.
Nalaka spoke at a special AMS session on the role of broadcasters during national and regional disasters. Other speakers were drawn from leading public broadcasters in tsunami affected countries -- Japan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
As a regionally operating media organisation, TVE Asia Pacific was extremely keen to tell the story of tsunami recovery on television. But it opted for this approach, instead of producing yet more documentaries laden with information and statistics.
“We want to personalise the millions and billions - and find out how the outpouring of generosity worldwide is reaching the last child, woman and man,” Nalaka explained.
Within a month of the December 26 disaster, TVE Asia Pacific had identified and commissioned locally based television journalists and film-makers in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand for this project.
“We strongly believe that locally based journalists are best positioned to cover and amplify these stories to their own countries and beyond. We are proud and privileged to be working with four teams of outstanding and committed film-makers,” Nalaka said.
He added: “Though made for broadcast television, Children of Tsunami goes beyond headlines and soundbytes. This is journalism with empathy, and journalism that stays with the big story and dozens of mini-stories within it as they evolve.”
Children of Tsunami looks at how ordinary people are rebuilding their lives, livelihoods and homes shattered after the Asian Tsunami.
From February to December 2005, TVE Asia Pacific’s film-makers will make monthly visits to two chosen families each in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand -- countries hardest hit by the tsunami. Based on location filming and field investigations, they will produce television, video and web stories for a global audience.
The main focus is on eight children, who will guide the audience month after month. The stories will also cover their extended families and communities. Using their specific experiences, Children of Tsunami will document how recovery support is reaching affected people across Asia and what challenges they face.
The eight families are participating in this project with informed consent, and with no material benefits for themselves. This project does not seek to raise money for specific individuals or families; any offers of support will be channelled to local NGOs/charities.
Nalaka acknowledged the tremendous goodwill and support received from many partners at local, national, regional and global levels.
“This demonstrates the power of many. This is a journey we have embarked on together, and we welcome many more partners to join us,” he said.
He specifically invited broadcasters in Asia and other regions to join the effort by broadcasting the Monthly Video Reports featuring the children’s progress. The reports -- each five minutes and produced to a uniform format -- are now available without a license fee to all television stations.
“Come join us on this journey, and become part of the story,” was Nalaka’s concluding remark.
For more information on the project and how to access its media products, please visit the dedicated website at www.childrenoftsunami.info