Citizen journalist, film-maker and media critic Rory O’Connor has written a moving tribute to extraordinary activist and entrepreneur Anita Roddick, whose premature death on 12 September 2007 has left her many admirers in shock and grief.
He recalls how colleague and fellow media-activist Danny Schechter and he first met Anita at a gathering of progressive business executives called the Social Ventures Network. Their shared background, vision and ideals soon turned them into friends and co-conspirators.
Rory recalls how their company Global Vision embarked on a new human rights-oriented TV newsmagazine in the mid 1990s: “Anita and her husband Gordon were key players in that series – ‘Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television’ – coming to fruition. They contributed their energy and enthusiasm, their ideas and information, their contacts and creativity (and oh yes, their capital!) and without all of it, the series would never have been born. But with their help, the award winning newsmagazine was broadcast weekly for four years, on more than 150 public television stations in the USA, as well as on channels and networks in sixty-one other countries. It remains the only regularly scheduled television program in history devoted exclusively to coverage of human rights.”
Rory echoes my own point about how Anita was a communicator par excellence, driven more by intuition and inspiration than any textbookish theories:
“Although Anita wasn’t a media activist per se, she intuitively understood how media could be used for activism, and she did so shamelessly and in a cheerfully relentless manner. Whether she was supporting social and environmental causes through window displays, convincing American Express to pay her to appear in an ad promoting the Body Shop and its causes, working with Globalvision on its commercial and non-profit programming (or later writing books, blogging, running an activist website, contributing to the success of Mother Jones magazine, or working closely with — and donating millions to — media-savvy organizations such as Amnesty International,) Anita intrinsically ‘got’ the importance of characters and stories to selling anything—from cold cream to ideas and values – and she employed them cleverly and constantly in support of her principles.”
Watch Anita’s one minute on climate change for Friends of the Earth:
Watch QuantumShift.tv’s thoughtful tribute to Anita Roddick, better presented than the fleeting coverage of mainstream news channels: