Nov 10

 Q: Who thinks that TV is “chewing gum for the eyes”?

 A: Sir David Attenborough

Bet you didn’t see that one coming! Sir Attenborough was talking at Communicate, a conference held in Bristol on the 3rd and 4th of November which gathered hundreds of environmental communicators from across the country. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Connecting with Nature’: how do we communicate about and champion the natural world more effectively? How do we make people aware of the brilliance that is biodiversity and turn this awareness into action?

Greater flamingo

The beautiful greater flamingo in flight

Sir Attenborough said that television has a vital role to play in making people aware of the natural world and that he hoped his programmes had inspired many people. However, he worried that television was “dumbing down” – becoming “chewing gum for the eyes” – due to economic pressures and that, as such, people working in conservation and wildlife film-making should find new and more effective ways of promoting their message. He also believes, as does Ed Gillespie of Futuerra, that a positive ‘love’ message which celebrates the world’s fantastic flora and fauna is much more effective than a negative message that concentrates on doom and gloom. 

Ken Banks, founder of Kiwanja, demonstrated how he shares this belief that a positive message is the most effective way of promoting conservation. He enables non-profit organisations to make better use of technologies, such as mobile phones and online gaming, in their work. This allows charities and other NGOs to reach out to a wide range of people using innovative and engaging methods. Could technology be the solution to our communication problems?

iger shark getting up close and personal with new technology

Tiger shark getting up close and personal with new technology

Here at ARKive, we believe that films and photos are powerful tools in raising awareness about the amazing diversity of life on Earth and promoting conservation, something that Sir David echoed in his talk at Communicate. He said, “People won’t…care for an animal unless they know what that animal is”.

So, what do you think? How would you promote your conservation message?

Ruth Hendry, ARKive Media Researcher

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