Using the Media to Promote Social Change

“We need more courses like this,” says Margaret Lazarus, speaking about Producing Films for Social Change, a course developed by the Communications and Media Studies Program and Tisch College. Her remarks were included in an interview about her new film, “Defending Our Lives,” an Oscar winning documentary about the magnitude and severity of domestic violence in the United States.

 Lazarus, who teaches Producing Films for Social Change, noted that “the course not only teaches the rudiments of nonfiction filmmaking, but also explores how to create media that supports social justice. I don’t think that there is anything like this anywhere else, and this is exactly what we need.

“Tufts recognizes the critical component that the media play in shaping our culture and importance of working with young people to give them the tools to be active citizens in this media-driven world.”

The film, produced by Lazarus’ Cambridge Documentary Films, features four women imprisoned for killing their batterers and their terrifying personal testimonies.

Asked what changes she would like to see in the media, Lazarus, said, “We need transparency – it must be perfectly clear who pays for it and who benefits … we need diversity – the gateways and portals of information are controlled by a very small number of corporations … we need accountability – when journalists and other media makers fall into stereotyping a situation, not investigating and reducing real complexity to fit a time slot or entertainment purpose, they need to be held accountable … we need to acknowledge that the culture we create has real impact on people’s lives, and we need to be more active consumers of media – not passive, not accepting – challenging perspectives and seeking information.”

For the full interview, click here.

Originally published August 2007