by Lucilla Blankenberg
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
As a child, I remember trying to talk into the speaker of a television during the news, because I thought the person in the TV could hear me. Why not? I could hear them. We have grown up with mass communication through television and radio, we have fallen in love with characters and personalities, and our opinions and thoughts are guided by news (or fake news) and factual content. This is one of the most powerful representations of our society and probably the most influential medium when it comes to behavior, opinions, discussion and lifestyle. Social media has allowed everyone to have their own magazine, a cover photo, a daily update, a lifestyle you chose to show to the world. Mass communication is fast paced and dynamic, and it’s never boring!
Imagine the power it yields when harnessed to address issues of human rights, social justice, gender based violence, health and HIV. This is what Community Media Trust does.
CMT is a lifestyle, not a job. One of the things I love most about my work is watching an idea go from a brainstorm session or an idea, and follow the process as it morphs and changes until we have created a TV show, a campaign, a logo, a poster, something. That is truly a privilege.
CMT’s work goes beyond television and the facebook page. Our mass media is often accompanied by face-to-face communication or training which allows interaction and questioning. Our work is aimed at changing behavior for the better. It may sound silly, but we want to change the world!
Some of our latest projects include the 9th season of our flagship health series, Siyayinqoba. This season has a strong focus on young women and girls. Four young women who work in the Siyayinqoba girls clubs in KZN were trained in journalism and story-telling, and it’s their stories which are told. This model of training young people to tell their own stories in their communities, makes for great intimate television, and also leaves them with a skill set in journalism and film-making. CMT, pays it forward. Siyayinqoba is on air on the 06th of October on SABC1 every Friday at 14:00.
Our other project, Counter Culture is on SABC 3 every Sunday at 21:30. This is an edgy documentary series which investigates, why we do what we do… from nudists to drag performers, from avid beauty contestants to dog loving enthusiasts, Counter Culture takes a look at what South African’s get up to in their spare time.
CMT has also produced the drama series JAB and Amaza, both female-lead sport protagonist stories. JAB was set in the world of women’s boxing on the Cape Flats and dealt with issues of gender-based violence, gangsterism, drugs and living with disability. This was one of my favourite projects so far. It is based largely on personal experience. I had the privilege of co-creating and directing this project which reached 4.8 million viewers on prime time Friday night television. (www.sabcjab.co.za)
CMT is currently heading up the Man Up / Soka campaign which encourages men to get medically circumcised because it reduces their chances of contracting HIV by 60%. This has been CMT’s largest media campaign to date, and we have learnt a great deal and expanded our skills to include media buying and scheduling, we’re delving into other forms of entertainment like music videos, and have been allowed to flex our creative muscle. South Africa has circumcised more men this year through PEPFAR and CDC funding than other year previously, and we are very proud to have been part of this initiative.
I’ve been at CMT since 2001 and I still enjoy what I do, every day. It is because CMT is run by a team of strong dedicated women (and a few men) who believe in what we do. I am always grateful for the opportunity to create new things, and always grateful for the team who makes it all possible.