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Spring 2017 Newsletter

March 11, 2017


The field of media development is changing as quickly as the media organizations and policies themselves, along with the environments in which they are working. It pays to be nimble as well as experienced in this field. While it looks as if the world’s open societies are under increasing challenge, we take heart in developments like the global Panama Papers and other efforts to hold the powerful accountable through fact-based journalism. We are dedicated to developing the capacity of people everywhere to speak for themselves, with high professional and ethical standards for media of all kinds. We advocate for press freedom and responsibility. Our work takes us to conflict zones, presidential offices and forgotten corners of the globe. We continue to believe the facts matter, and that fact-tellers will emerge, even in unlikely places.


Our inaugural blog generated some good questions about IMDA: are we a business? Who can join? The answer is we are a professional network of veteran media developers, working independently and together. We invite selected colleagues to join our IMDA network, but are deliberately keeping the group small—no larger than about 20 people. We share best practices with each other. Our members are experienced independent contractors, who might be considered leaders in the media development field.


Here are some highlights of IMDA members’ activities over the past three months:

  • Designed audience research, measurement and evaluation (M&E) methodologies for online media in closed and authoritarian societies

  • Evaluated a global network of investigative journalists for a donor, including an overview of the media landscape for cross-border collaborative journalism projects

  • Conducted journalism workshops in Uzbekistan related to the 2016 presidential elections

  • Organized a conference for a Scandinavian foreign ministry and UN agency on the safety of journalists

  • Consulted with eight independent news media organizations in a former Soviet country, successfully growing their revenue, audience, and digital engagement

  • Authored an industry report and recommendation on the forces affecting advertising as a source of revenue for news media.

  • Provided in-depth one-on-one consultancies to African media houses that resulted in revenue growth and business diversification

  • Advised ethnic/border legacy media houses in Myanmar on revenue strategies, including leveraging mobile distribution and monetizing online content.

  • Profiled the needs and concerns of independent media in Moldova, as a media landscape assessment on behalf of a major media development implementer

  • Analyzed Russian government misinformation and propaganda in international media, particularly in Russian language countries, for multiple reports and publications

  • Evaluated an Asian regional journalism network

  • Wrote a paper on media and communication and conflict prevention for a UN agency.


IMDA members also:

  • Advised a journalism institute in the Post-Soviet region on business models and financial sustainability strategies

  • Conducted training workshops with journalists from Ukraine, Russia and Armenia

  • Wrote a report for a media development organization on the role of media development in countering violent extremism

  • Evaluated a Myanmar NGO media initiative

  • Offered advocacy, media support and technical advice on freedom of information commitments in the UN’s new 15-year Sustainable Development Goals

  • Advised a 5-year media development program in Liberia, with a special focus on legal reforms and public service broadcasting options

  • Consulted with the Nigerian presidency communications office on developing professional practices

  • Worked with prosecutors on open government and transparency issues in an effort to improve their communication with the public

  • Wrote reports analyzing media donors

  • Organized briefings with UNESCO for Open Government Partnership member states on access-to-information obligation

  • Developed and launched implementation of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan for an online free speech advocacy and documentation project

  • Advised an NGO on strengthening its board of directors

  • Contributed expert analysis to a global press freedom report

If you would like to learn more about IMDA or contact our members directly for their services, please explore our website.  Our members offer their services to public and private donors, media development implementers, and democracy and governance organizations. We work as individual consultants, but we can also develop teams to tackle your training, assessment, consulting, or other needs. We have worked with major US and European donors, leading foundations, and multilateral organizations. 


If you have any questions about IMDA, please contact us at


Best wishes,


IMDA: Marguerite Sullivan, Ellen Hume, Mogens Schmidt, Michelle Foster, Bill Orme, Jane McElhone, Magda Walter, Mark Whitehouse, Michelle Betz, and Susan Abbott 


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