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USAID Study: Media Investments Do Help Build Democracy

09 October 2009
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statistical analysis funded by USAID found that there is a positive link between developing independent media and building civil society.
The study compared the Freedom House indices over time to see whether USAID-funded democracy programmes had any impact on improving free elections, human rights, civil society, independent media and good governance. Researcher found that media assistance programmes did have a positive impact,  albeit statistically small, in advancing civil society and free elections. Of all their investment in civil society, media programmes yielded the strong results by far-while money spent on human rights, by contrast, had negative impact. Mark Koenig, Senior Advisor for Independent Media at USAID presented findings of the study at the Strengthening Independent Media Conference organised by the Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the GFMD and Knight Foundation.

“These findings are especially important in light of the fact that other assistance programmes, for instance to human rights, had less positive impact on their own sector or others, such as civil society or governance,” said Koenig.

“Based on this study we are assuming that media assistance and governance programmes taking place on the local level at the same time will ensure that both programmes will have more positive impact,” he said. “We will test this assumption in some 50 test cases over the next year.”

The study is strong evidence that GFMD member can use to make the case for media development.

The full report of the study, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, Hertie School of Governance and Vanderbilt University, can be downloaded here. SORA_FinalReport_June08_508c.pdf