The media have recently been going ga-ga over what many consider to be appalling public statements made by prominent figures in various fields --music, sports, domestic politics, and just today, international diplomacy. From the U.S. Open to the U.S. Congress, to the august halls of the United Nations, public figures have said some terribly inappropriate things and, come the very next news cycle, have suffered sharp rebuke by pundits in the mainstream media. Some have even claimed that these events portend the end of civilized society. I think they exaggerate.
The World Region
There was an article in the New York Times recently with the title 'What's Really Wrong With Wall Street Pay?' In the article, the writer discusses a problem world leaders want to do something about but are not sure how. How do you stop compensation packages for bankers and traders in global markets from encouraging them to take the kinds of wild risks that have done so much damage to the global economy? I wish the leaders the very best of luck in dealing with that one. Success in the endeavor is far from certain...to put it gently.
What caught my eye as I was reading the piece is what the writer says bankers call the "I.B.G-Y.B.G." problem, as in 'I'll be gone and you will be gone'. It is the moral hazard problem. Traders in global markets take incredible risks and recklessly, they collect their bonuses and move on. The firm takes all the risk. Well, it turns out that taxpayers take risks as well, since governments have had to bail out so many banks deemed too big to fail.
The “Ladies Specials” are women-only commuter train recently launched in four Indian cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta). While not a new practice, public transport exclusively for women is becoming popular. (Mexico City introduced women-only buses in January 2008 and commuters on Japanese trains know a thing or two about this too.)
Harassment on the train or bus is not just an annoying nuisance for women. It influences a whether or not a woman chooses to enter the workforce in the first place. (Or maybe whether her family or husband will allow her.)
"Constellations of Change
Media structures, laws, and policies are scarcely ever modified to find a more beautiful form, or even to develop a more efficient way to achieve commonly agreed-upon goals. Changes in structure, including changes in law, occur because of pressure from within industry, the society, and the government, from within or without the state... Because (the global communications system's) contours are important for the fundamentals of national identity, for trade, and the world political order, the shaping of it is a matter not only of domestic preference but also of international debate and foreign policy."
Moving up the rankings never looked so good.
The public needs its pundits. Those with expertise on various topics, ranging from financial derivates to pop psychology, serve as “opinion leaders” on the important and not-so-important issues of the day. From personal experience -- talking to family, friends, and colleagues -- I notice that we tend to repeat what we hear from them on various topics, whether consciously or not.
We know from applied communication research that, over time, people tend to retain bits and pieces of information while forgetting their sources. How many times have we made authoritative statements and when asked where we got the information, say something like “I don’t remember from where exactly but I’m pretty sure that… “ This is normal because we can’t be expected to keep track of each and every information source. And we can’t be expected to come up with our own erudite analysis of each and every public issue either. Hence, we need pundits. But we should also keep in mind that not all of these experts on all things public are created equal. We could very well be mouthing off as hard fact something a pundit shared as her or his own misinformed opinion.
In today’s fast-paced digital environment, new forms of literacy are quickly emerging. It is not only a challenge to keep up with new tools and skills needed to stay informed and engaged in the world around us, but also to find the time and resources. While media literacy is not a new issue, it has quickly become an eminent one due to the fast speed and wide spread of information via new media technologies. As a matter of urgency, the European Commission has issued a new recommendation, pushing its member countries to make media education available to all citizens and include it as mandatory in the school curricula, as well as adopt media literacy as a key pre-requisite for active citizenship. While internet penetration is high in Europe, there is an evident skill gap between citizens of different age-groups and socio-economic backgrounds in using the internet and new technologies. The European Commission believes that this skill gap and media illiteracy can lead to missed opportunities and social exclusion, and therefore, it’s important to instill media literacy skills in all sections of society. One could possibly also argue that citizens would also be excluded from realizing their political rights. The Commission further suggests that media literacy would be “a stimulus and a pre-condition for pluralism and independence in the media”, leading to multiple perspectives and diverse opinions that will enrich public discussions and specifically, lead to “a positive impact on the values of diversity, tolerance, transparency, equity and dialogue.”
As part of the lead-up to the Y2Y Global Youth Conference to take place here in Washington DC in October, the World Bank Youth-to-Youth Community is launching an essay competition on youth entrepreneurship in times of crisis.
The contest is open to all young people aged 18-30 around the world and shortlisted essays will be featured on the World Bank Y2Y website.
"When real people argue about politics with friends and associates, they probably will not formulate new arguments or articulate reasons entirely by themselves as deliberative theory advocates. After all, even those pundits who argue as 'professionals' are mostly rehashing preexisting political arguments. But citizens do need to be skilled at picking among these competing arguments, and at circulating them among themselves, trying them out in informal conversation and discarding those that do not ring true. The marketplace of ideas will not work properly if political elites are the only ones involved."
Photo credit: The Brookings Institution
Fighting poverty means helping women not as an afterthought, but as forethought. Women’s disproportionate share of the poor makes them a special demographic. And we’re targeting them more and more.
Last year, 45 percent of lending operations looked through a gender lens when planning their projects -- up 10 percent from the year before. Project planners ran gender assessments, set aside resources for gender initiatives and broadly incorporated gender into project components.
Enter the Web. Mouse over the infographic below to take a look region-by-region.