“Being a member of this network gives us a major opportunity to meet and exchange with colleagues, better coordinate our activities, and develop new partnerships.”
–Caroline Vuillemin, Directrice Générale, Fondation Hirondelle.
The Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), a not-for-profit, Belgian registered ASBL, is a network of journalism support and media assistance groups established in 2005 in Amman, Jordan. The GFMD’s core value is to support the creation and strengthening of journalism and free, independent, sustainable and pluralistic news ecosystems, as defined by the declarations of UNESCO at conferences in Windhoek, Almaty, Santiago de Chile, Sana’a and Sofia. Its main focus is to ensure proper collaboration as well as an exchange of information and experience among its members with a view to creating a strong, independent and pluralistic media environment, which contributes to the development of empowered societies. GFMD currently has an active membership of around 200 organisations in 70 countries. Its secretariat is based in Brussels.
GFMD has a unique, neutral and trusted position which allows it to bring together all the major actors in media development, local and regional media assistance groups and the representatives of nascent media sectors to reach a common understanding of needs and priorities. It has, for example, played a fundamental role in global advocacy initiatives aimed at including access to information in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has successfully advocated for the inclusion of Access to Information in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and developed a series of strong initiatives at the international and country levels. GFMD has coordinated needs assessment among local media actors in Syria, provided policy advice for donors and increased the added value and impact of development aid for Syrian media. Additionally, GFMD organised four major World Forum conferences to discuss the challenges for media development at the world stage, in 2005 in Amman, 2008 in Athens, 2012 in Grahamstown and 2016 in Jakarta.
The core needs of the GFMD are covered by membership fees directly linked to the member organisation’s annual budget, as well as pro bono contributions from its members. These fees cover around a third of GFMD’s annual operating budget. The remaining funds come from grants which GFMD secures from international donors such as the Flemish Government, Open Society Foundations (OSF), National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and UNESCO) and from sub-grants contributed by its member organisations including BBC Media Action, International Media Support (IMS), Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie, and Free Press Unlimited (FPU).
Since its establishment, GFMD embraced the principle of equality among members from different parts of the world in its constitution, work ethics, and objectives. It is a democratically governed network, in which regional diversity, local expertise and autonomy of the members are deeply rooted principles. The members of GFMD cooperate in the work that needs to be done by engaging each other in developing the agenda for GFMD activities using collaborative needs and priority assessment through the regional caucuses, working groups and individual members at the country level.
The GFMD secretariat plans its activities in close cooperation and dialogue with the major international media development network members so as to ensure that the most relevant media development groups are present and assist in, co-organise and participate in the various media policy and coordination activities. This dual integration ensures the impact of GFMD’s activities and reinforces the evidence-based approach as well as the local ownership of GFMD’s actions.
The work method and bottom-up approach are the channels through which grassroots’ needs and priorities are integrated into GFMD’s agenda and local media benefit from the network. At the same time it helps the delivery of valuable inputs to stakeholders at the international, regional and local levels.
International multilateral organizations (OECD, World Bank, United Nations Agencies, the AU, OAS, EU, ASEAN and others) and national actors such as regulatory agencies, as well as the media industry can therefore improve their policies and strategies and benefit from having a representative body of media development organisations with expertise and a strong network throughout the developed and developing world. GFMD and its members provide feedback, highlight standards and ethics and help target key development issues that the multilateral actors care about.
As stated in our founding agreement in Amman, we support the creation and strengthening of independent, sustainable journalism and pluralistic media, as defined by the declarations of UNESCO at conferences in Windhoek, Almaty, Santiago de Chile, Sana’a and Sofia.
GFMD’s vision is summarized in a code of practice developed by and for its members as a common ethical framework to which GFMD members commit themselves. Our aims foster:
- Collaboration: We act together to increase strategic coherence and foster collaboration, connection and community among journalism support, free expression and media assistance organizations, including tech or digital human rights actors.
- Knowledge, Standards, and Skills Sharing: GFMD is strengthening capacity and skills of journalism and media support and development groups, and promoting best practices and professional standards of the sector. GFMD leverages expertise that exists within the journalism support and media development sector to provide the most current and practical knowledge and experience to its members and community.Promoting and disseminating research and analysis on the impact of media in social and economic development.
- Advocacy: We address political, social and structural constraints to media freedom through peer-led advocacy. We advocate for increased understanding, recognition and importance of journalism support and media development within international corporate, donor, and intergovernmental and philanthropic communities.
- Research: The GFMD promotes and disseminates research and analysis related to journalism support and media development, including its impact on development of societies. We also encourage the evaluation of media development work as a way to identify and advance best practices, methods and technologies.
We define journalism and media assistance in the broadest possible sense. Our members are not limited to professional journalists, media and media development organizations, but also include human right activists, investigative reporters networks, digital developers, and civil society organisations in support of free media and freedom of expression. In the fast-changing media environment, the GFMD constantly evolves, integrating new members and approaches to enhance our work.