Just three days before the May 3rd World Press Freedom Day celebrations, ten Afghan journalists were killed. Their deaths highlighted not only the critical role local journalists play in newsgathering but also the incredible dangers they often face in their own countries. While UNESCO and others have highlighted the issue of safety of journalists and impunity, much of the work that has been carried out until now has been focused on international journalists. The case of the Afghan journalists underpins the need to also focus on the safety of local journalists.
In Accra, Ghana, which played host to this year’s World Press Freedom celebrations, it was clear this is at least beginning to change and there is recognition that journalists in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico and others need a contextualized approach to safety. Several panels examined the issues local journalists face with regards to safety as well as national mechanisms that currently exist to address precisely these issues. Other sessions brought together well-known investigative journalists who shared their experiences covering stories of corruption and what threats they faced in doing so.
IMDA partners are also actively working to increase safety for local journalists. During one panel in Accra, an IMDA partner underlined the need to place more emphasis on the safety needs of local journalists and fixers. In particular, that safety needs extend beyond physical safety and must also include digital and psycho-social issues.
The following highlights what IDMA members have been working on and accomplishing this spring:
Addressed a UN General Assembly "Multi-Stakeholder Hearing" on policies and attitudes toward Refugees and Migrants, representing the UK-based Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), on "the role of media and the need to work in partnership to encourage an evidence-based debate about migration." Background documents and proceedings of the hearing can be viewed at: https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/21-february-multi-stakeholder-hearing
Worked on issues related to countering the deliberate sharing of false reporting
Prepared and delivered a curriculum designed to help independent news media in freedom-challenged environments. The development of curriculum utilized analytics and other metrics to inform newsroom decision-making and increase audience size and engagement.
Spoke at a national media conference on the importance of media houses having clear branding and differentiation
Attended the Stratcomms Summit of the European Values Think Tank in Prague in May
Conducted an external evaluation of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
Organized panel discussion at RightsCon in Toronto with the Global Forum for Media Development on Bot Battles: Disinformation, Computational Propaganda and Speech Regulation – Digital Rights and Press Freedom, and the Future of Online Independent Media
Carried out global program evaluation on international journalism fellowship program aimed at improving digital newsroom transformation and supporting news innovation
Researched and wrote donor profiles for the Center for International Media Assistance. Link to donor profiles: https://www.cima.ned.org/donor-profiles/
Assisted in facilitating police-media forums in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone both before and after recent elections in those countries. The resulting publication was launched at a World Press Freedom Day pre-event in Accra, hosted by Media Foundation for West Africa. A link to the publication can be found below.
Organized an online discussion on national safety mechanisms leading up to several sessions at the World Press Freedom Day event in Accra. The summary of the discussion led to the resolution from the conference encouraging the African Union to engage in efficiently protecting the rights of journalists to report freely and safely.
Worked with Somali broadcasters on developing stronger digital media strategies. Employed analytics to strengthen audience engagement and develop diverse revenue streams
Worked with Somaliland media houses to strengthen business management, diversify revenue sources, implement digital distribution, and professionalize their sales management
Continued work in Myanmar including a media development survey, a mapping of the local media sector in the ethnic states and regions, an inclusion policy and gender project, and support for free and creative expression
Contributed to proposal writing for media development and media literacy project in Central Asia
Supported a project on transparency and good governance in the Balkans which included assessing communication capabilities and work to enhance increased openness and responsiveness with the media and the public
Contributed to proposal writing for media development and media literacy project in Europe
Carried out a final evaluation of an EU-funded preventing violent extremism program in Jordan
Write monitoring and evaluation plans for DRL-State Department programs for media development programs in Syria and Iraq
Some recent publications by IMDA partners:
IMDA partners 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 work jointly on training programs, assessment reports, and other media development consulting projects. IMDA partners have collaborated with the leading bilateral OECD donor agencies, major private philanthropic foundations, and multilateral organizations in providing both advisory and managerial support for media development projects in all regions of the world.
Susan Abbott, Michelle Betz, Michelle Foster, Ellen Hume, Jane McElhone, Bill Orme, Mogens Schmidt, Marguerite Sullivan, Magda Walter, Mark Whitehouse.
If you would like to learn more about International Media Development Advisers, contact us at info@IMDadvisers.com