December 17, 2012 by Colin Kelly
Every day this week I’ll be highlighting one of my media heroes of the year.
Today: Martha Payne
The media has many different functions. The BBC’s original remit was ‘to inform, educate and entertain’. Many journalists say their role is to ‘tell the truth’. One thing the media is certainly capable of, and we would all like to see more of, is bringing about positive change in the world.
This year, a 9 year old girl demonstrated that to great effect.
Martha Payne’s ‘Never Seconds’ blog began with her giving a critique of her school dinner each day. It ended up raising £114,500 for the Mary’s Meals charity and funding the building of a new kitchen at a school in Malawi which will feed more than 2 thousand children.
This article explains the full story and includes some powerful images of Martha as she met the children she’s now helping. Martha and her Dad have written a book which will raise yet more money and the blog itself has evolved so that children all over the world collaborate and share details of their lives and school dinners.
The whole thing is a great example of old and new media working together and stimulating people into action. It demonstrates the power and reach of social media, and shows how newspapers can take up a cause and rally behind it. Together, they put pressure on a local authority which at one point attempted to ban the blog but very quickly saw the light and cut through red tape in order to give Martha the support the world was demanding she received.
But at the heart of this story is something very simple and powerful. That one person, a 9 year old girl, with an idea, can make a difference on a massive scale.
A lot of scorn is poured on social media and blogs by people who don’t get it. Who think it’s all sad or scary. People who assume the worst and write young people off. Martha is positive proof that these new online tools can be and are used for good. And that there is a multitude of people, of all ages, using them for that purpose, hoping to bring about positive change in the world. I hope we hear from more of them in 2013.