New West Media was founded in 1994 when Mary Wald created her first website, hard coding html on Notepad. The website, tibetanstudents.org, raised sponsorships of Tibetan refugees and software for a computer learning center in the Dalai Lama’s community in Dharamsala, India.
In 1999 she built TheCommunity.com, originally envisioned as a portal for non profits, where they could work jointly and “cross-pollinate” on projects. The site sponsored the first “high tech day” in the San Francisco Bay Area, with virtually all of the large tech companies sponsoring or sending staff to three simultaneous Habitat for Humanity builds. It raised funds for underground schools for girls in Afghanistan with CARE, and in 2000, partnered with Peacejam in Colorado to raise school supplies for the newly independent island nation of East Timor, which had been decimated by militia. The project raised 6 tons of school supplies for the new country.
The school supplies project led to a trip to East Timor with a colleague from CARE, and a working relationship with 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta that would still be going strong 23 years later. In 2001, with Ramos-Horta’s help. With Ramos-Horta now on the Advisory Board, TheCommunity.com gathered and published the collective statements of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates to the 9/11 attack, which were covered around the world in the press. When East Timor gained independence and became Timor-Leste, the first new democracy of the millennium, Mary was there, webcasting the ceremonies for UN Foundation. In 2006 when Ramos-Horta was elected President, she worked in his office building his web site and social media channels and training staff to use them effectively. In 2008, when he narrowly survived an assasination attempt, Mary traveled to the safe house where he was recuperating to work on his first written statement, for CNN.
Joined in 2002 by renowned writer and editorial director Jesse Kornbluth and human rights legend Bonnie Abaunza, TheCommunity.com had a core team that worked together to organize collective statements from the laureates on the formation of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations, China’s treatment of the Dalai Lama, the use of torture by the US, the execution of dissidents by the Saudis, and other; each received international press recognition.
TheCommunity.com was the media partner for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome, when it was produced by former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev and Walter Veltroni, then Mayor of Rome.
With TheCommunity.com, Mary and Bonnie created a campaign for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with vide public service announcements and electronic billboards in Los Angeles donated by ClearChannel. The site also began production on the “What’s so hard about Peace?” series, which will be released in partnership with the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.
27 Nobel Peace Prize laureates have participated in actions on TheCommunity.com. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the site’s very active human rights advisor for 14 years. In the course of her work, Mary came to know many of the laureates, and their families, personally, visiting their homes, sharing meals, and having the opportunity to ask the kinds of questions we would all like to ask them.
As times have changed, TheCommunity.com is becoming TheDemocracy Report, with a focus on the state of democracy in the world and the serious emerging threats to our basic freedoms.
In January, 2023, Mary again organized the Nobel laureates, this time in support of Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize lauerate, who was in danger of being imprisoned on charged trumped up by the Duterte administration, meant to silence Maria and her online news site, Rappler.
Twelve Nobel laureates signed an open letter to President Marcos; signatories included Maria’s fellow 2021 laureate, Dmitri Muratov, founder of the last remaining independent news outlet in Russia (since shuttered), and the 2022 Nobel laureates and human rights leaders from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The letter was covered on the front page of the New York Times.
The production and distribution of media related to these causes has never been more vital.
““I have happily referred to Mary as a ‘co-conspirator.”
“I find Mary extremely bright and creative, and most importantly, trustworthy. I have repeatedly relied on her good judgment and consider her an asset to the world of the Nobel Peace Prize winners.”
“Mary is highly regarded in both the activist community and in the entertainment industry… Her work ethic and commitment are singular…”