Corruption: a "multi-headed monster"

21 November 2008 - Participants at a joint World Bank-UNODC event held this week in Vienna described corruption as a "multi-headed monster" and a "complex and dynamic" problem that manifests itself in numerous ways.

Reacting to the common perception among citizens that corruption is everywhere and that little can be done to stop the crime, the anti-corruption agencies that took part in the event stressed the importance of communicating with the general public, including by reaching out to people and giving them a voice. The media can facilitate the process.

Throughout the three-day event, entitled "Using communication approaches and techniques to support anti-corruption efforts", media practitioners, communication experts and anti-corruption officials assessed the different communication strategies that could be implemented by Government agencies. Suggestions included educating journalists about corruption and the work of local anti-corruption agencies, as well as building trust among journalists by showing them that these agencies are transparent, accountable and open. Communication strategies should use a variety of media tools to deliver anti-corruption messages, such as radio, television, print media, advertising and the Internet.

Citizens understand simple, straightforward messages that explain what corruption is and what is being done to address the problem. Given the complexity of the issue, communication strategies and messages need to focus on priorities rather than on broad concepts.

The media give citizens access to information on corruption - general facts, specific cases, success stories - and the opportunity to participate in the fight against corruption. For example, public debates and drama series in which people can express their views on radio or television foster a culture of questioning and transparency. In this framework, individuals feel they can do something against corruption.