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Summer 2017 Newsletter

July 13, 2017

Over the past few months IMDA’s senior media development advisors have been active in a wide variety of countries and regions around the world, including: Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Sudan); Europe (the Baltics, Ukraine, and a variety of countries in eastern and south-eastern Europe); Latin America; the Middle East; Southeast and South Asia (Cambodia, Timor Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand); and North America (United States).

 

One of the senior advisors acted as co-director of a Budapest-based two-week summer school for practitioners and academics on the topic of media capture. As noted by Mark Nelson, Sr. Director of the Center for International Media Assistance: “Media capture is a systemic governance problem where political leaders and media owners work together in a symbiotic but mutually corrupting relationship: Media owners provide supportive news coverage to political leaders in exchange for favor."  (For a useful definition and analysis of the term media capture, see: CIMA report on Media Capture in Turkey). The Central European University led course covered five key issues related to media capture: 1) Media funding: the funding models for independent journalism and their implications for media freedom; 2) The function and state of public service media; 3) Media ownership: ownership structures and their impact on media freedom; 4) Media regulation: models of media regulation, and the impact of the decision-making process on media freedom; and 5) The role of corporations in the media ecosystem and their impact on media freedom. Given that media freedom and free expression are under serious threat in Hungary, the subject matter had particular relevance.

 

Another senior advisor published a report for the Center for International Media Development Assistance (CIMA) - Media Feast, News Famine: Ten Global Advertising Trends that Threaten Independent Journalism -  and held a working group session on trends affecting media development partners. Among the key factors cited that threaten independent journalism: independent media being captured and replaced by entertainment; audiences switching to digital, especially mobile; and mobile conditions creating conditions for an even greater shift.

 

A third senior advisor assisted PEN Myanmar and the digital rights coalition working for the reform of the Myanmar Telecommunications Law. After a period of increased media freedom and free expression, Myanmar has made an about-face. There are now dozens of criminal defamation cases linked to Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, and four journalists in jail, including the top editor of a prominent daily newspaper (sued by the military for criminal defamation using Section 66(d)) and three journalists (arrested by the military and charged with contravening the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act). This is a concerning reversal that was reflected in a scorecard released by PEN Myanmar and 13 of its free expression, digital rights and media freedom partners. The score – 8 out of 60 – reflected their assessment of free expression and media freedoms at the one year anniversary of the National League for Democracy, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

Please find below other examples of recent work carried out by IMDA’s team of senior advisors:

 

Access to information/Right to Information:

  • in collaboration with UNDP and UNESCO, advised UN member states in Latin America on fulfilling government commitments on access to information in the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals, and produced a study published by UNESCO on Latin America’s current access to information laws (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002498/249837E.pdf)

  • collaborated with Pakistani journalists on a Right to Information project

 

Business and management coaching:

  • worked with ethnic and formerly exiled news media organizations in Myanmar on organizational management, mobile content, audiences, and financial operations

  • guided board and management development for a start-up NGO

 

Conferences and panels:

  • spoke on a panel at the UNESCO global World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta about conflict sensitive journalism

  • participated as a panelist and moderator in several conferences on Russian government disinformation, on the ways of supporting independent media to provide a greater plurality of voices in the former Soviet space, and other efforts at countering false information

  • participated in the 5th annual national ethnic media conference in Kayah State, Myanmar

 

Digital media:

  • mentored early career journalists in digital media at NPR in Seattle

  • developed an audience survey for a social media news site

  • assisted with mobile news and revenue generation strategy development for a major implementing organization

 

Elections:

  • conducted elections training for Cameroonian reporters (in Yaounde and the northern region)

 Donors and funding:

  • wrote funding proposals for civil society and media projects in Europe and the Middle East

  • advised Baltic and EU Eastern Partnership media organisations on development and donor funding

 Good governance:

  • assessed the communication skills/abilities of a democratic institution in a Balkan country, and then conducted a series of trainings to encourage greater openness and transparency

 Project evaluations:

  • conducted an evaluation of a media support project in Burundi for an INGO

  • assessed the impact of a Ghanian elections-related project for an INGO

  • conducted an end-of-project evaluation of a Southeast Asian free expression and press freedom network

  • conducted a mid-term evaluation of a media development program designed to support gender equality and empowerment of journalists, media policies, and work environments in the Middle East and Africa

 Public service broadcasting:

  • provided legal and technical advice on the proposed transformation of Liberia's state media service into an autonomous public service broadcasting corporation

 Publications and research:

  • wrote two research papers for an international NGO on the issues of trust in media, and how Internet-based communication has opened up new avenues for suppressing speech and threatening freedom of expression     

  • wrote an article on the relevance of journalism in the post-truth era for an international NGO annual report

  • researched and wrote a series of reports on 2016 donor support of international media development for CIMA

  • worked as a contributing editor of a book on media, journalism, and free and creative expression since the political opening in Myanmar; wrote chapters on ethnic media and international media development

  • conducted research on the interface between climate change, human rights and gender equality in Asia

  • conducted research on the challenges and opportunities for independent media in the EU Eastern Partnership countries

  • did a study for the World Bank on development and conflict prevention

  • conducted a study on the role of philanthropy in journalism and media literacy

 

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 info@IMDadvisers.com.

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