Amherst Magazine

Letters

A worldwide strategy
The article by Jennifer Acker ("Hope on the Air") in the Spring 2002 issue of Amherst focused on the important role of the Centers for Disease Control since 1999 in promoting use of the Sabido methodology of entertainment-education serial dramas for behavior change related to avoidance of HIV infection in Africa. It did not mention the broader context in which this field of entertainment-education has evolved over the last 30 years.

Since Miguel Sabido first created his revolutionary methodology at the large commercial network, Televisa, in Mexico in the 1970s, it has been adapted to the cultural and broadcasting realities of the Philippines, India, St. Lucia, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Botswana and Ethiopia, largely through the work of David Poindexter, now Population Media Center's honorary chair. This process of spreading the use of the strategy began with a key meeting Poindexter and Sabido held with Indira Gandhi in the early 1980s and was followed by meetings with many other heads of state in Asia and Africa. Much of the leadership for this work has come from the private, non-profit sector. The methodology has been used not only to promote reproductive health, but also to promote elevation of women's status, adult education, civil harmony, and tolerance. Sabido has recently created a Web-based variation on his methodology.

The organization I head, Population Media Center, and my former organization, Population Communications International, have worked to spread the adoption of Sabido's uniquely effective strategy worldwide. In 1999 and 2000, Population Media Center took Dr. Christine Galavotti [Amherst '78] of the CDC to visit several countries in Africa to meet some of the practitioners of the Sabido methodology and to witness the need for application of the methodology in new countries. The program in Ethiopia referred to in the article is a Population Media Center program to which CDC has provided technical assistance and some funding. Population Media Center also trained the production and writing team of the CDC program in Botswana.

Since his retirement from Televisa in 1998, Sabido has worked as a trainer for Population Media Center, as have several of the people he has trained in Kenya, Tanzania and India. Readers wishing to know more about this work are encouraged to contact Population Media Center, P.O. Box 547, Shelburne, VT 05482 or on the Web at www.populationmedia.org.

—William N. Ryerson '67
President, Population Media Center

Others to credit
I very much enjoyed reading Jennifer Acker's article in the Spring issue on "Hope on the Air." It is a good piece that gives appropriate credit to Miguel Sabido who developed and demonstrated the success of the educational "soap opera" as a technique of social change, and to Christine Galavotti '78 for using it in the HIV/AIDS campaign in Africa.

I only regret that no mention was made of two organizations that have been using radio and TV dramas-with-a-social-message for some years, in Africa and other tropical countries. Their focus has been on birth control and spacing and the education and role of women. Indeed it was these organizations that mounted the comparative effectiveness study in Tanzania that is mentioned in the article. These charitable/educational organizations, whose work clearly is complementary to and supportive of education on HIV/AIDS, are independent of the government, except for Sec. 501 c 3 status, and need more support to expand their good work, should any of your readers be so moved. They are:

Populations Communications International
777 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017-3521, and

Population Media Center
P.O. Box 547
Shelburne, VT 05482

—Bartlett Harvey '42
Exeter, N.H

Setting the record straight
I was intrigued by the mini-bio of Bruce Barton '07 [Spring 2002 Amherst]. I have a personal interest, since I'm currently writing a biography of him. The bulk of his papers are at the Wisconsin Historical Society, relatively convenient to where I live (certainly more so than any previous research topic).

Under the heading "picky-picky," I want to note a couple of errors. BB didn't call himself a "conservative," but rather a "liberal Republican." He opposed much, but not all, of the New Deal, yet stressed, while he was active politically in the '30s, that the GOP had to accept many of the changes the New Deal wrought, that it couldn't stand pat as it had in the '20s. He also asserted that business had to offer something to its employees and consumers. He may have been a bit complacent about how well business was already doing, but he seems to have been sincere. He said—and this is a big theme in The Man Nobody Knows—that "service" was the key to success in business.

He was not elected to the House in '36 but '37 in an off-year election occasioned by the death of the Democratic incumbent. His campaign involved much pounding the pavements, pressing the flesh, a bit like Rockefeller, perhaps, in '58. More commonly, he promised to repeal one New Deal law a week. He normally didn't attack the New Deal head-on but went after redundant enactments, outdated provisions, powers that should not, he felt, be kept open when no longer needed. He never got any of his repealers out of committee.

When FDR uttered the "Martin, Barton and Fish" throwaway, Barton was running not for reelection to the House but a Senate seat. He was asked to enter that race to help Willkie out in New York. Defeat ended his political career, though he advised Dewey and Ike, and BBDO had a key role in framing Eisenhower's advertisements in 1952.

If you just can't wait until my biography is done, provisionally you can consult my introduction to the only currently available (in-print) version of The Man Nobody Knows, published by Ivan R. Dee in 2000. Other editions are out there, but they mistakenly treat the 1950s revisions of the book (which took out all references to Jesus as ad-man) as the original work.

—Rick Fried '63
Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Two tough "pokes"
I want to thank you for the professional job you do on Amherst.

I would like to register a small complaint concerning your Spring 2002 issue. In the first nine pages I was disappointed to find two pokes—admittedly fairly playful ones—at Christianity generally and Jesus particularly. Rabbi Gellman's comment about Johnson Chapel (p. 7) and the bizarre tidbit, "Ad man for Jesus" (p. 9), are tough for an alumnus like me to take. In an issue that embraces a wide range of people, issues, vocations, etc., why must I be made to feel that people and places dear to my heart—namely, Jesus and "Protestant" Johnson Chapel—are fair game?

This is a small point; I raise it only because I love the fairest college.

—Mark Rigg '89
Boonton, N.J.

Good Solution
You are right—the class notes have "mushroomed dramatically over the years." You are also right: "this reporting . . . is a good sign—and a crucial agent—of alumni loyalty."

I think your solution—to prevent Amherst from becoming as thick as a phone book—is a good one. So is your idea to have a three- or four-year overlap in the notes.

I want to tell you how much I enjoy reading Amherst. I read all the articles, letters, and reviews; I skim the class notes for news about former students of mine, and I read a good number of the "In Memory" essays. I know of no college or university that celebrates the lives of its deceased alumni the way Amherst does. These remembrances—by family and friends—are detailed, heartfelt, eloquent, and very moving. To read them is to witness the bonds of friendship and love.

Thank you for all your efforts in putting out such an excellent publication!

—J. Allan Pryor '29
Greenwich, Conn.

Did you know Charles Merrill?
In connection with my research for a new biography of Charles E. Merrill '08, founder of Merrill Lynch and father of the poet James Merrill '47, I would welcome from alumni recollections of his visits to the college and attendance at Chi Psi gatherings. I'm also interested in hearing from any of the more than 300 alumni whose Amherst tuition Merrill paid directly between 1930 and his death in 1956, and from members of the Amherst community who attended the Merrill Center for Economics that the college ran out of Merrill's estate in Southampton, N.Y. Correspondence may be addressed to me at 650 Yorkshire Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30306, or at coboyle@attbi.com.

—Chuck O'Boyle '86
Atlanta, Ga.