Social TV: Letter of Inquiry
Social TV is a none-partisan Israeli social change initiative, using strategies of public education and independent media (mainly video articles), aims to empower civil society and the peace and social change movement in Israel as a whole. Founded in 2006 as an Israeli project, Social TV has been operating under the Syncopa Community framework. Social TV has already produced over 250 short video programs for its website, building a video library that includes coverage of demonstrations, direct actions, lectures, and alternative cultural events, etc'. Daily, there are hundreds of visitors to Social TV’s website, and an additional 12,000 are reached through weekly e-mail updates. Run by an entirely volunteer staff, Social TV has also become a platform for other non-profit organizations in Israel (please refer to last page of the letter of inquiry).
Social TV was founded to give visibility and evoke awareness and sympathy to issues of social justice in its broader sense. Thus, Social TV seeks to break the monopoly of privatized neo-liberal media, by providing alternative media that is created and maintained from below, through the grass-roots efforts of the citizens. Social TV aims to become a cooperative media organization which promotes democratic values and foster active participation within civil society, raising awareness about the political and social issues within Israel, and within the increasingly globalized world.
Social TV’s seeks to become a model of socially responsible communication throughout Israel and the Middle East, which is able to be duplicated and reproduced.
Thus Social TV seeks to impact the current reality, as a social change organ striving to promote human rights, social justice, equal distribution, and political co-operation between diverse groups in society.
Background and Needs
It is well-established that mainstream media is shaping the mindset, political and social consciousness of the next generation, and constructing reality through the select material presented and disseminated. Increasingly, through an accelerated series of mergers in the news media, this situation has been compounded, enabling a few large commercial conglomerates to dictate the media agenda, creating a close fit between big government and commercial interests.
The situation in Israel, a small, highly industrialized and developed country, has reached a crisis point. For years a hegemonic historical and political outlook has dominated Israeli society, perpetuated by a few large institutionalized media outlets (radio, newspaper, and television), and by the interconnected process of educational and military which every Israeli youth undergoes. Facing increasingly intense political, social and environmental conflict, including 40 years as a foreign occupier, Israel is also concurrently within the grasp of an intense push towards privatization.
Privatization has meant that Israeli media is increasingly controlled by a number of large commercial conglomerates, and thus nearly all of the country’s media is filtered through the institutionalized commercial interests of a few select individuals and families (appendix 1). This is a process of inter-locking ownership, where the owners of financial and commercial enterprises (who control all the means of production), also control all the modes of communication that reach the public. This situation is dangerous because it limits the spectrum of issues and viewpoints presented in the media, threatening the basic tenants of a democracy.
Social TV’s program is designed in response to this situation. By providing critical news and information that is detached from corporate agendas, Social TV is putting media back into the hands of the public, reaching a target audience of adept internet users who are held captive by mainstream news.
Social TV’s mandate is to provide an alternative internet TV platform to promote equality, justice, civic education and culture which stands in contrast to institutionalized commercial media, breaking the link between capitalism and media. Social TV’s target population on the electronic internet community, a confident population of youth and adults who are computer literate and active citizens involved in activities and outreach events through social justice organizations. Social TV’s aims to:
Promote civil and political awareness in place of commercial consumption and strengthen Israeli democracy by highlighting the plurality of alternative events, organizations, and agendas within Israel.
Create a platform for Israeli social change organizations to exhibit and advertise their educational, social, and cultural events, which are often neglected by mainstream media.
Redefine the value scale, by targeting the standard values represented and disseminated by mainstream media, in order to implement a fundamental shift in the central values and beliefs of society.
Each of Social TV’s projects have two components: I) educational seed training stage, and II) creation and production stage. These two stages will enable Social TV to build an enduring framework, ensuring the organization long-term trajectory through creating a solid infrastructure. The list of Social TV projects for the upcoming year includes:
Project: ‘Spotlight on Social Change’ an alternative talk-show, will run on a bi-monthly basis throughout the year. Each show would be comprised of a conversation between a featured guest and the host.
Theme Articles Project providing a stage for evolving issues marginalized in the mainstream media, themes includes privatization and centralization within Israel, alternative Israeli-Palestinian initiatives towards cooperation, and the struggle for worker’s rights.
Non-online channels of distribution - mainly mastering high quality Educational DVD Library, containing Social TV’s articles collection, for distribution throughout Israel to learning centers and schools, academic institutes, youth movements, social change groups etc'…
Mobile Social TV - is a project designed to actively bring the organization’s materials to the general public by screening at outdoors public spaces, focusing on communities in social and geographical periphery. This will be done in the context of debate-oriented social events, as to strengthen the sense of civil society.
Since its establishment in 2006, Social TV has becoming a leader of alternative media in Israel, producing groundbreaking reports on events, lecturing at locations throughout Israel, and increasing their coverage in the mainstream media. A sample of the Social TV’s accomplishments thus far includes:
Early and exclusive coverage of non mainstream Israeli citizens who organized massive protests against the war in Lebanon in July of 2006.
Educational lectures and seminars which have been given at academic institutions throughout Israel including The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleges in Tel Aviv and Akko.
A diverse range of articles written about the organization in the mainstream media, signaling the growing recognition of Social TV as a vital force for media advocacy in Israel.
The growing numbers of organizations which have presented their content on Social TV’s website include:
The Coalition Against Trafficking | B’Tselem | Gush Shalom | Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) | Gush Shalom | Yesh Gvul | Coalition for the Promotion of Animal Rights | Zochrot | New Israel Fund | Shatil | The Workers Hotline (Kav Laoved), and others.
Ehud Shem Tov
Director, Social TV
Tel: +972 (0)52-5433100
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