The beginnings of One World Media can be traced back to 1986, when Chris Rowley of the Independent Broadcasting Authority and Austin Kark, then-Managing Director of the BBC World Service, along with Johnny Wilkinson, formerly Secretary of the BBC, founded the One World Broadcasting Trust (OWBT) to stimulate a greater range of television and radio programmes about the developing world.
Initially, twenty five people were approached, including senior broadcasters, politicians, academics, NGO leaders and businessmen with overseas connections. They agreed to establish the new charity and a small group of Trustees was appointed. The first chairman of the Board was Sir Michael Caine, a leading businessman and founder of the Booker Prize, and the first Director was Catherine Freeman of Thames Television. An eminent panel of Patrons also lent their support.
Two linked factors motivated the founders to create the Trust. Firstly, audience research at the time showed that over 80% of the UK public relied on radio and TV as their principal source of information about the rest of the world; secondly, there was relatively little UK broadcasting about international matters. What there was concentrated heavily on famine, floods, war and distress.
The Trust's first activity was to set up a prize to encourage a broader range of work and then to give it public recognition. This initiative developed into the renowned and hugely respected One World Media Awards.
During the first few years of the annual Awards, the evening ceremony was preceded by a large conference at Regent's College in London, often hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby. With high-profile speakers like government minister Lynda Chalker and attendees and supporters from throughout the media industry and development field, the international conferences enabled journalists and commissioners to learn about and discuss important issues and network with others also interested in coverage of the wider world. One of the first conferences examined radio and TV in and about Africa and another tried to build bridges between Arab and British broadcasting.
Trailblazers and Offspring
In 1994, Peter Armstrong and Anuradha Vittachi became joint Directors of OWBT and pioneered a new media initiative, OneWorld.net, the world's first online portal covering issues such as human rights and sustainable development. OneWorld UK was later inaugurated as an independent organisation, amicably separating from OWBT but keeping close links. It is now active globally as the OneWorld Group.
In 1996, the Trust launched a new initiative with the support of the British Council and other funders - the international fellowship programme, bringing senior media professionals from developing countries to the UK. The fellowships offered professional development across editorial management and standards, broadcasting technology, regulation, research and policy. The fellows met their counterparts in UK broadcasting for two-way exchanges on the role of the media in society and developments in media around the world. There have also been specialist programmes including one focused on climate change and a radio drama fellowship for producers in Kenya.
A New Millenium
In 2000, Ritchie Cogan, formerly of the BBC, stepped in as Director to develop the Trust's core projects, establishing closer relationships with European partners.
The Trust's student travel funding was initiated to offer bursaries to UK film and journalism students to make media about the wider world. By 2009, the funding scheme had built momentum and a large-scale Education Programme was established with a grant from the Department for International Development. Now reaching hundreds of students every year, the programme collaborates with over 30 UK universities that offer practical media courses. As well as working directly with lecturers and tutors, it provides workshops and other events in which award-winning reporters, producers and commissioners teach students how to produce high-quality coverage of international issues.
A New Decade
In 2010, Director Andy Glynne launched One World Media Week, an inspiring annual programme of events on international journalism involving partners like Channel 4, the Frontline Club and the Institute of Development Studies. Events range from panel discussions and lectures covering relevant issues in media and development to film screenings and a day for new and emerging media professionals interested in documentary filmmaking and journalism.
Lord Tony Young had steered OWBT through the early years of the 21st century as Chairman, overseeing a change of name to One World Media in 2009. That year, Tony handed over to a new Chair, Myles Wickstead, and the change agenda gathered pace. A new Director, Marion Bowman, strengthened our media industry links and sharpened the focus of our Annual Awards and educational work in the UK, while developing a strategy for working internationally in a world fast transitioning to digital media.The media, charity and development landscapes had been transformed since the charity was founded and the organisation has developed in response. In autumn 2012, Clothilde Redfern was formally appointed Director of the charity after having served as the Deputy Director for nearly three years.
Since its inception, One World Media has benefited from the enthusiastic commitment of innumerable supporters and volunteers, from its trustees to prominent media figures and companies, to the wider circle of people and institutions concerned with global dialogue and understanding, human rights and development. We have built an unrivalled network and successful partnerships with bodies like the BBC, the International Broadcasting Trust, Television Trust for the Environment, UNICEF and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. We are funded by a variety of leading media companies, global development agencies, government bodies, private trusts and foundations.
After more than 25 years of achievement, and with media and communications changing rapidly while global events affect life for people everywhere, our work has never been more relevant. Our response as an organisation is to develop new initiatives and ambitions that build on our previous track record of innovation and success.