The great media theorist Marshall McLuhan first coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.” Loosely translated, what he meant is that it matters less what our message might be than the means in which we use to transmit it.
Looking back historically at the rapid growth of major media, the medium of radio took 38 years to garner a mass audience of 50 million. Television took 13 years to do the same. When it came to the Internet it took four years. And Facebook took only two.
In 2004, after its first year in operation, YouTube amassed an audience share of 10 million. By 2006 it grew to 60 million. In 2010, it exceeded 100 million.
There are more than 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month.
Marshall McLuhan’s message was quite apt for his time during the mid-20th cen- tury. However, in the world of the 21st century, the major medium for transmitting a message to a mass audience is audiovi- sual technology harnessed to the Internet.
Dream Factory is a D.C.-based media production company. My team and I spent the last six years on a media construction project in Bahrain. Shortly after our return to D.C. last August, we discovered news about the
ever-rising rates of HIV/AIDS occurring in the African-American community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report revealed that African Americans make up 13 percent of the nation’s population of more than 305 million. Yet, they constituted nearly 50 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases. Increasing numbers were being found among those in the age group 39 to 49. But what was most disturbing was to learn that of that figure, 64 percent of black women in the prime child bearing ages of 24-34 were succumbing to this deadly disease.
Shocked and surprised, we asked ourselves, “What can we do to help stem this tide?”
As citizens of the leading country for technological innovation, we assumed that there was much work already underway with D.C. AIDS organizations in har- nessing audiovisual media along with social networking to spread the word about the AIDS epidemic. Multiple calls to executive leadership of several prominent national and international AIDS organizations revealed that woeful little was actu- ally being done in this domain.
The major media being used by most of these groups took the form of posters, fli- ers, brochures and static, text-driven websites — none of which were having a meaningful or measurable effect on their target audience. There is a huge media gap.
As every savvy military tactician knows, information is the key to determining the outcome of any battle. To support the non-profits and faith-based organizations in the battle against the rapid growth of
HIV/AIDS, Dream Factory has devised the D.C. HIV Virtual Resource Center (VRC). The VRC is designed to:
• Create a central location online that will inform and educate those from non- profits and the faith-based community engaged in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Washington area.
• Use audiovisual media and the Internet to provide a means for individual or- ganizations to learn from one another as well as share information about the scope and goals of their HIV program.
• Strengthen communications with others involved with the HIV struggle, to ex- plore areas of synergy that will enable them to partner to more effectively meet the needs of their respective communities.
Key features of the VRC are:
The organizational profile page that will show the core functions of the dif- ferent HIV/AIDS organizations, revealing their major efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Many of them will serve as best practice models for others to learn from and replicate.
A special events link will showcase workshops, seminars, symposiums and conferences centered around IV/AIDS. This link will reinforce important informa- tion covered at such events and provide a virtual portal allow those unable to attend to capture core messages presented.
Art Jones is an independent filmmaker working with Damien Ministries to raise awareness about HIV AIDS. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.