Wednesday, May 24, 2006

so what: communicating in the age of AIDS

One of the most fascinating communications projects we've ever worked on was the funding and sourcing for the first television series on AIDS, from WGBH-Boston, back in the late 1980s. Called The AIDS Quarterly, it was hosted by Peter Jennings and was the brainchild of Renata Simone. At a time when most television networks weren't touching the subject, public television took it on. And they won the funding (from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, at the time one of the few philanthropies active in AIDS) because Renata, when asked "so what?" by a clever foundation executive, could answer that question about the impact of the epidemic and the impact of the series.

Today, we still use the "so what?" question to check our (and our clients') assumptions about communications matters large and small. And we're pleased to alert you that Renata has produced a lookback at the AIDS epidemic on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the first diagnosed cases of AIDS. Airing on the public television stations series Frontline next week (Tuesday, May 30 and Wednesday, May 31), the special will look at the science, social and political impacts -- and I expect it will hit the "so what?" question hard, as usual. (Check your local listings for specific times.)

If you do communications and outreach about AIDS matters, contact the series (information here) about their planned outreach and education events, or about using portions of the film in your work.

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