03 January 2011

ABC and Gates Garner $500k After First Special

On December 17, the year long ABC News/Gates Foundation special "Be the Change: Save a Life" premiered with a 40 minute special that covered topics across the world addressing global health.  ABC is now reporting the success of the show:
The response from viewers was overwhelming. In the first week after the special aired, nearly 10,000 people donated more than $500,000 to organizations working on problems highlighted in "Be the Change: Save a Life"
I am still a bit hesitant about the partnership, but I am happy to see that people watched the show and took action after seeing the innovative actions of some around the world.  However, the theme of "Whites in Shining Armor" persists and that is a bit troubling ("We'll be back with more smiles for more kids around the world in a moment," says Sawyer going to commercial break ).  I can only hope that this will shift throughout the series.  Kristof addressed the issue of connecting audience to story through an American protagonist and I can understand the utility of the action if it is done in an intentional manner which will lead to a shift of Western-centric reporting to local.  For example, it would be great to see this series have features that are populated by mostly local action taking place in communities.

All in all, I will admit that it is not fair to fully evaluate the series based on the first episode, speculation and my concerns.  I want to mostly focus on the ability bring about action as evidenced by the outpouring of giving.  Although I am a little pessimistic as this is the season for giving.  So, it will be worth seeing the long term impact of the series and the trends of giving based on subjects and timing for the episodes.