Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Want my MTV

A recent New York Times article highlighted a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MTV that has angered some non-profit leaders.

According to the article, the Gates Foundation has spent $960,000 in contracts with MTV to learn how to better engage students. Some of those funds are being used for a social networking site called that is designed to encourage youth activism. Several other foundations have supported this effort.

On the one hand: if MTV is more effective at reaching great swaths of young people than some of the non-profits that run similar social networking sites, shouldn't the foundations invest in initiatives that are going to show the best results and have the most bang for the buck?

On the other hand: Are foundation dollars best spent on an initiative that is backed by MTV, which is part of Viacom, a gigantic media conglomerate? Shouldn't Viacom be footing the bill? Is part of ThinkMTV's design related to driving viewership and brand loyalty to MTV?

On the third hand: (yes, I know there is no third hand) This is a great example of the Golden Rule - He who has the gold, rules. The foundations can do whatever they want - if the non-profits complain about it, should that push them to be more effective, more competitive?

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