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Solutions To World's Problems Generate More 'Buzz' Than Days Of International Observance

“From World Food Day to Anti-Poverty Day, October is a busy month when it comes to calls to make the world a better place,” Astrid Zweynert, deputy editor of AlertNet, writes in the news service’s “Insight” blog. “No one knows the exact number of such days of international observance but there are hundreds each year,” she states, adding, “Many [of the] days have been declared by the United Nations or other international bodies, while others are set up by charities,” and “[t]here is always scope to set up more.” She highlights a list that shows more than 30 days of international observance in October and writes, “It made me wonder how impactful they actually are.”

“Aid organizations, like the World Food Programme, argue that days like International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on Oct. 13 and International Day of Rural Women on Oct. 15, are an opportunity to draw global attention to those issues,” according to Zweynert. But “[a]mong news editors, story pitches about days of this, that and the other often don’t pass the ‘so what?’ test,” she writes, and asks, “[W]hy have a story only because a day has been declared?” She adds, “Increasingly, we find that our readers are interested in stories that show how affected communities find solutions that make an impact, rather than just point out the problem on a ‘you must pay attention to this because it is terrible’ day,” and concludes, “Solutions to hunger, water scarcity and adapting to the worst effects of climate change generate a buzz among our audience — throughout the year, not just on a day when a deluge of stories about a particular issue is likely to overwhelm the audience” (10/19).