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Media Freedom Cohort: key outcomes and findings

18. April 2023

Media Freedom Coalition


The Netherlands, together with the United States, and the governments of Costa Rica, Zambia and South Korea organised the second Summit for Democracy on March 29-30, 2023, bringing together representatives of the government, the private sector and civil society. The aim of the summit was to actively emphasise the importance of a well-functioning democracy and a free society that has access to reliable and independent information, and where press freedom and the safety of journalists are guaranteed.

Since the first Summit for Democracy in 2021, at which countries from around the world pledged concrete actions to advance democracy at home and abroad, governments and civil society groups have worked together to convene Democracy Cohorts. These Cohorts gathered broader commitments from a wider array of stakeholders and provided recommendations, evidence and best practices to the second summit.

The events in The Hague focused on the work of the Media Freedom Cohort – co-led by the Governments of Canada, the Netherlands and international media support NGO Internews.

The Media Freedom Cohort:

  • Delivered more than 120 commitments to media freedom in our Findings Report, spanning government, civil society, media, and technology.
  • Presided over deep exploration of media freedom issues through the official 30 March event by Summit co-host The Netherlands and numerous side events in The Hague and Washington, DC.
  • Highlighted the importance of media freedom in other cohort themes, including anti-corruption, youth, elections, and technology, with panels at official events by Summit co-host Zambia and in Washington, DC.
  • Ensured the continuation of our efforts through the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) which will take the Cohort’s work forward to ensure sustained action around our efforts.

The events in The Hague enabled the working groups of the Media Freedom Cohort to hold deeper discussions to prioritise what should be communicated to the Summit.

MFC working groups

The working group on “Bolstering Independent and Diverse Media” focuses on building funding models, industry standards and public policies that support the resilience and professional capacities of media outlets to survive and thrive in the coming decades.


The goal of these sessions was for each working group to come up with 3 core recommendations on their subtheme which successfully fed into the discussions during the MFA event on March 30.

The meeting also contributed to the ongoing GFMD/CIMA-led consultation to inform the OECD’s process to renew and operationalise principles for effective media assistance which was included in the findings report:

Improving the effectiveness of media development assistance

The Media Freedom Coalition’s Media Development Working Group, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the United Kingdom, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), and the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) have committed to advancing their engagement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee’s Network on Governance (GovNet) to update the existing media assistance principles so they better respond to the current context, and include a more operational focus. This is in line with a GovNet commitment in its programme of work 2023-2024.

Read the GFMD/CIMA statement calling for engagement by the Summit for Democracy and the Media Freedom Coalition in “Renewing Principles on Effective Support to Journalism and Media”.

You will find other issues in focus (p. 10) as well as innovative solutions (p.19) of the working group co-led by GFMD with the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Media Freedom Cohort findings report.


Media viability in crisis

On the afternoon of March 29 GFMD together with UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), Free Press Unlimited, and DW Akademie hosted two sessions that brought together recommendations on how to sustain viable, independent media and journalism.

The video and report from this session will be shared in the next newsletter. Learn more about the session here.

Thriving media for resilient democracies

On the morning of March 29 Free Press Unlimited organised a multi-stakeholder session showcasing hopeful initiatives from across the globe of diverse actors working on strengthening independent media’s resilience.

During the first panel discussion, Enrique Gasteazoro, Director of Communications and Engagement at Access Now, spoke about the resilient online civic space that journalism can build amid a process of rapid erosion of democracy. As an example of such media, Eddy Prastyo, Head of New Media at the Voice of Surabaya, talked about the experience of the radio station that has become known as a ‘social institute’. Because of their unique format of addressing issues, they have become popular both among the residents of Surabaya as well as with the local government. Mira Chowdhury, Latin America Programme Lead at Free Press Unlimited, continued the discussion by sharing about VIMES (Viable Media for Empowered Societies) project which works with media outlets in Central America and Eastern Europe that are facing increased political, economic and safety issues in their countries due to their ground-breaking reporting and pro-democracy stance. By building a cross-border collaboration network of journalists their business model, resilience and viability are improved, which strengthens their position in society.

Mira Milosevic, Executive Director at the Global Forum for Media Development, started the second panel discussion by highlighting how aware States are of the need to support the resilience of independent media and what challenges are still to be tackled in this process. This was elaborated by Lizzy Bans Nobre, the deputy director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who represents the Netherlands in the Media Freedom Coalition. The governments of Canada and The Netherlands co-chair the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), established in 2019 as a partnership of countries working together proactively to advocate for media freedom at home and abroad. The MFC has a Working Group on Media Development where issues of financial viability are discussed. Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), talked about the International Initiative on Information and Democracy that aims at bringing democratic guarantees to the global communication and information space. One of the reports launched as part of this initiative is a “New Deal for Journalism” calling for a major commitment on a national and international scale to foster public-interest journalism.


The Media Freedom Coalition will continue the work of the Media Freedom Cohort. If you are interested in staying involved in the process please email Media-Freedom-Cohort@internews.org 


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