On the rainy afternoon of November 15, 2008, exactly one year ago, we were gathered for the last day of the symposium “Ethics in Knowledge” organized by the World Center for Humanist Studies. The words of Italian humanist and academic Salvatore Pulleda rang out in the ceremony of “ethical commitment” that closed the meeting held in the Park for Study and Reflection in Punta de Vacas.
The atmosphere of the symposium infused a recently inaugurated project to transform Pressenza into an international news agency with special meaning. A brief conversation with Pia Figueroa of Chile and Loredana Cici of Italy, coordinators of the endeavor, was sufficient to bring us all on board for the creation of a worldwide agency. The challenge was to produce news reports for the communications media from an editorial viewpoint of peace and non-violence.
Up until that moment, Pressenza had been an agency based in Milan and operated by a small group of European communicators. Now the challenge was much bigger: to carry this innovative editorial concept to every continent of the world with limited resources at our disposal, a small initial staff and no more than a dozen professionals. Afterwards, I would come to realize that the opportunity to collaborate with the agency had given new meaning to my work as a journalist.
At first it was not easy. We started practically from zero. We spent the first months in discussions and tests, but in early 2009 we began to publish our first news articles. The network of collaborators began to grow and in little less than a year after we began operations, it’s impressive to see the number of journalists, photographers and other professionals dedicated to subscription and technical matters that are now involved.
The subscription staff attracted an increasing and diversified subscriber base to the agency, as well as forging cooperation agreements with dozens of other agencies and media, including television networks interested in the pioneer content that Pressenza was offering. At the same time, the technical staff was perfecting the agency’s publications and news distribution systems. How could all this be done in such a short time?
It would be difficult to identify a sole reason, but I believe that it was our shared motivation to produce news reports and images that could create a consciousness of peace and non-violence through the communications media. We were dedicated to offering an alternative to the other media’s emphasis on violence and tragedy and to provide coverage of the many examples of progress being made in overcoming violence in all its forms that was underreported.
We discovered unlimited sources of positive news concerning non-violence and began with coverage of the functions and activities related to World March for Peace and Non-Violence, one of the most noteworthy events of the year. Among the highlights of this year’s reporting was our coverage of ceremonies commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in more than 300 cities around the world, including the Japanese cities destroyed in the nuclear holocaust.
We gave eyewitness testimony of important moments such as the pronouncements and speeches made by President Obama in favor of nuclear disarmament, while at the same time discovering a series of activities and projects carried out by local organizations that were not covered by the general press.
On October 2, we were in hundreds of cities for the launch of the World Peace March, which coincided with the International Day of Non-Violence declared by the U.N. By this time, we could count on an impressive network of hundreds of collaborators and translators who helped to publish images and communications in five languages. We reported peace and non-violence related events in conflict zones such as the frontiers between India and Pakistan, North and South Korea, and Israel and Palestine.
We even gave special coverage of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, scheduled to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our collaborators were there alongside the champions of peace and non-violence Mikhail Gorbachov, Mohamad Yunus, Lech Walesa and so many others, providing virtually simultaneous text and graphic coverage of the event.
From the summit in Berlin, we reported on the speech made by Mario Rodríguez Cobos, better known as Silo, founder of the Universal Humanist movement, and his moving commentaries on the “Charter for a World without Violence”.
One day in the future, when humanity evolves beyond war and violence in all its forms, we will understand our mission as having been accomplished. Until that time, we look forward to the important and motivating work still to be done, and we wish Pressenza a long and successful future in the world of journalism.
*(Translation provided by Jenni Lukac)*