Commonwealth Press Union Conference Keynote Address, ‘The Spirit of Creative Encounter’ (Cape Town, South Africa)
- 17 October 1996
- Sources: Primary
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[T]he spirit of Creative Encounter [between cultures] will never become a dominant force in our world without the strong and effective leadership of the information media. How can the press best contribute to a spirit of Creative Encounter — here in Africa and around the world? One simple requirement towers above all others: the ability to respect that which is truly different, to understand that which we do not embrace. It is not as easy as it sounds. For it means much more than tolerance and forbearance. The word sensitivity is one of the most overused words of our time — and one of the least honoured. Why? Because sensitivity is too often seen as an emotion which can simply be willed into existence by a generous soul.
In truth, cultural sensitivity is something far more rigorous, something that requires a deep intellectual commitment. It requires a readiness to study and to learn across cultural barriers, an ability to see others as they see themselves. Cultural sensitivity is hard work….
[T]three specific challenges which I believe the media must meet or obstacles it must overcome if it is to foster a spirit of Creative Encounter. The first is the imperative need for expanded expertise, for a higher level of professional knowledge…. The second challenge is equally demanding. It has to do with the goals we set for ourselves, and the need — as we set those goals — to rise above a domineering profit motive…. The third of the media challenges I would discuss today is the need to balance concerns about press freedom with a greater emphasis on press responsibility. In my view, we are sometimes too preoccupied with the rights of the press as an independent social critic — and we pay too little attention to the obligations of the press as an influential social leader.