Presentatie Ode aan de Amerikaanse media, New York, 7

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					Presentatie Ode aan de Amerikaanse media, New York, 7
januari 2004, 16-1-2004

This is a very special occasion for Ode and for me. It happens
rarely - if at all - that a magazine in The Netherlands liberates
itself from the prison of the Dutch language. It is, after all, a
language with a limited scope. If you want to change the world -
as our modest mission is - the Dutch language is hardly your
vehicle.

However the good thing about a small country is that we have - by
nature - a very global view of the world. We are used to thinking
in terms of international perspectives. That is why being Dutch
and being a world citizen are almost synonyms. And that too is
probably why I am standing here today.

What are we bringing?
If you visit a bookstore or a newsstand, you can hardly conclude
that there is a need for more magazines in this country. But we
are familiar with that challenge. When we started in The
Netherlands in 1995 we knew that we were launching a new magazine
in the country in this world where most magazines are read per
capita. There was another good reason not to start Ode. Because
Ode comes from content first. We did not create content to serve a
particular group of readers or advertisers as almost all new media
initiatives do. We had a message. We had a story to tell. And that
story now makes us cross 'the pond'.

I had career in mainstream - if you like - journalism. I had the
good fortune to be able to work in various positions at the desks
of the leading newspaper in my country. I loved my job and I still
love that paper. And yet I decided to leave after 10 years.
Why?
Because I think that there is something wrong with the focus in
the daily news. In fact that focus is about whatever goes wrong.
'If it bleeds it leads', it is said. I don't have to tell you
that. Yet, I don't want to live in a world where front pages and
headlines are only devoted to war, fraud, losses, murder,
calamities and whatsoever. Especially I don't want to live in such
a world because it is not the real world. The reality is that
every day, every moment - as we speak - people in our world are
also solving problems, meeting challenges, finding ways to make
their societies a better place.

A ha. So you want to make a good news paper, one may ask.
No.
That is far too simple. The good newspaper is as ridiculous as the
bad newspaper that sells so well. Good and evil coexist in our
world. It does not make sense to deny the problems, the pain and
the suffering, the struggling and the fighting. Yet we do want to
change the focus. We started Ode to strike a balance in our
reporting that resembles the reality people experience in their
lives. We often address the problems of our societies because they
represent opportunities for positive change.

Journalists are observers. And I see it as their duty to be as
fair and sincere as they can possibly be. Personally, I experience
it as my journalistic duty to present a realistic, balanced report
about what is happening to society to my readers. And for such a
report I have to focus on the many things going well too. That is
the mission of Ode.

So what does that mean?
Let me give you two recent examples of stories we published in
Ode.
First, we wrote about the banana production in Latin America. That
is a sad story about people being exploited and poisoned through
the extensive spraying of chemicals. Bad news. But we did not end
our report there. We went to look for a possible solution. And we
found plantations where bananas are grown in an organic and fair
trade way which gives the plantation workers a decent and healthy
life. And not only that: it gives consumers the opportunity to
contribute to a good cause and invest in their own health at the
same time. So this is a typical Ode story: addressing a problem
and looking for a possible solution.

Another example concerns renewable energy. The exhaust fumes of
the burning of fossil fuels are killing thousands of people every
day in the congested cities of our world. A much more immediate
threat than the potential danger of climate change. Anyway, bad
news again. But here too we can act. We have the technology - and
for that matter, the money - to build an economy based on clean
burning hydrogen. I believe it is a duty of the media to
investigate these opportunities rather than focus time and again
on the analysis of whatever went wrong. That is why we published a
cover story on how we can implement the hydrogen economy and how
already one country - Iceland - is very much doing that.

Such stories contribute to a better world. A better life for
banana plantation workers. Cleaner air. Better health for
consumers. And - also very important - these stories inspire
people. They tell people that we can make this world a better
place. And that is why there is such a need to tell these stories.
Because change begins with information. If we don't know that we
can produce and eat different bananas or that we can run our cars
on clean fuel, how can we demand such changes?

Are we dreaming? Are we naïve idealists at Ode?
Well, I treasure naiveté in the first place. I believe that, for
instance, all great entrepreneurial inventions start with people
asking stupid questions. If you continue doing what you always
did, you will keep getting what you always got.
And that is not good enough today.
I am not going to elaborate on the sad state of our planet today.
But we all know that the painful gap between the very few rich and
the many, many poor in our world is not sustainable. We all know
that we are destroying the environment for future generations. We
have to address these challenges. In the interest of our own
security and that of our children.

This mission goes beyond old fashioned realities like the
political divide between left and right. At Ode we address many
political issues - after all we write about people and society and
that is what politics is about. But we don't belong to any
political color. The challenges we are facing ask for a complete
new approach. We live in a post cold war, increasingly
interconnected world. We have to move from inward looking national
politics to outward oriented, truly, global policies. We have to
learn to find out where we can meet others rather than stressing
where we differ from them. As a magazine we want to investigate
the arising opportunities that the emerging new world presents us.
We want to write new stories.

And the good news is that I believe that by addressing these
issues we can give our societies and economies a very positive
impulse. Lots of people are eagerly looking forward to being able
to contribute to meaningful change. At Ode we receive almost daily
enquiries from people wanting to give more of themselves to their
world and not knowing where to go. They think we can show them the
way because we publish the stories about the people changing the
world.

Over the past year we have learned that many of these pioneers of
change live in this country. And that is not so strange. After
all, America has always been a nation of pioneers. So it makes a
lot of sense to introduce the news of Ode to American readers.
Here are the people that can take stories forward, complementing
them, creating new realities - as they have done so often in the
past.

At the same time Ode offers America an international perspective.
Coming from this crazy small place of The Netherlands we have been
educated with a global view. We may better qualify to report on
the world without boundaries that is quickly emerging - with all
its opportunities, its challenges and its threats.

Finally, at Ode we dedicate ourselves to one art: the art of
possibility - the very subject of our friend and honored guest Ben
Zander, who will speak to you shortly.
In every crisis there is the seed of an opportunity. In every
problem lies an answer. It is an art to find these. And like any
art, it takes hard work. And the hard work begins with the desire
to find solutions. It is a mindset. There will always be good and
evil. There will always be things going wrong. But we have the
choice of our focus.
At Ode we always look for the possible.
That is where we find our inspiration.
That is where we want to make a difference.
That is where we want to make a contribution to progress.
That is the way we want to change the world - one story at the
time.

Jurriaan Kamp

				
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