A few years ago, we were approached by The United Nations.
They had a problem.
They wanted to get the word out on the work they were doing with refugees around the world. From Somalia to Mali to Syria, the UNHCR, that's the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was saving tens of thousands of lives. But almost no one knew.
The problem was that the UN, like everyone else, was forced to beg places like CNN or The BBC to PLEASE SEND A CREW AND A REPORTER TO DARFUR!
Now, back in Atlanta, where CNN is headquartered, this begging was one of hundreds of other people who were also begging CNN to PLEASE SEND A CREW, from everything from the opening of a new shopping mall to the Boy Scout Jamboree to The National Marching Band Finals in Waukeegan, Illinois.
Now, CNN only has so many crews and so many reporters, and it is damned expensive to send a crew to Somalia or Mali or Darfur in Sudan. Damned expensive.
And for what (at least from the point of view of CNN).
Let us be brutally honest here for a moment - television news is about ratings. You live and die based on the ratings. And what is going to rate better amongst CNN viewers - the marching band in Illinois or the starving Sudanese in Darfur (who don't even speak English).
You got it.
So we told The UN, 'listen, the hell with CNN and the hell with begging them to please, please, please send a reporter and a crew'. It is true that not so long ago, if you wanted to get your message out, you had no choice. There were ten networks and cable news, or nothing.
But that is no longer the case. Due to the miracle of technology, once massive shoulder and bankbook breaking professional broadcast video cameras have been replaced by iPhones, which, by the way, everyone has. And also (!), the iPhones edit and add music and graphics and ALSO allow you to broadcast to the world for free.
So we said to the UN, why don't you let us train some of your people to TELL THEIR OWN STORIES, as opposed to having to explain it to the CNN reporter from Atlanta who gets flown into Darfur, if you are lucky, and is there for a day.
DIY TV - Do It Yourself!
And that is exactly what we did. We have now trained more than 200 UN operatives from around the world to shoot, edit and effectively tell their own stories - without the need to have to beg CNN or The BBC or NBC or anyone else to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE come.
This is called taking control of the message, the media and your life.
And if the UN can do it, so can you.