Dear GFMD Members,
2017 promises to be a decisive year for our field of work, with the sphere of media and media development taking centre stage within the global public debate. I am deeply honoured to have been elected Chairman for an organisation that is at the forefront of the battle for free, independent, and trustworthy media in the middle of these times of crises and opportunities.
GFMD’s strategy for the period 2016-18, approved at the Conference in Jakarta last September, focuses on the three key areas:
Raising and Developing Standards
GFMD continues to strengthen its commitment to raising and developing standards in media development and actively reflecting on the transformations of the field in the midst of “post-truth politics” and the power of digital platforms.
In July, GFMD will be participating in the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference taking place in Cartagena, Colombia. Among other things, GFMD will be pushing for more research to be done to study the impact of strategic communication and counter-propaganda in order to better inform the discussion of current government initiatives to prevent and/or counter violent extremism – measures that may have a negative impact on media legitimacy and media development funding.
A new area of focus for the coming year will be to actively encourage bridge-building between digital rights advocates and practitioners on one side and media and media development practitioners on the other. The two fields cover a lot of common ground yet each have been ensconced in their own silo. Some of our member organisations have already started the work of breaking these silos, especially in the field of investigative reporting but more work needs to be done to disseminate experiences and share success stories.
Reinforcing Media Development as a Priority in International Development:
As the credibility of media is being contested, more efforts are needed in order to reinforce the idea that a free and independent media, as well as access to information, are fundamental for any democratic society. The GFMD Steering Committee will be convening at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta in May to discuss how to further ensure the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Target 16.10 (public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms) at the national, regional, and global level.
A plan to produce a set of do-no-harm and best practice principles for practitioners within the field of Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is underway, with GFMD spearheading these efforts. The aim is to protect free and independent media from the destabilizing effects of strategic communications and counter-propaganda led by governments and donors who are under pressure to provide results against the overhanging threat of terrorism. Meetings and round table talks with experts and stakeholders are currently being set up to coincide with and take advantage of international conferences hosted by, among others, UNESCO and the OSCE.
Enhancing Coordination between International and Local Actors
Having now established itself as one of the key advisors on media issues in relation to major multilateral institutions, such as UNESCO, UNDP, the World Bank, OECD, OSCE, the African Union, the European Union, and USAID, GFMD is in a unique position to help focus media development assistance. In the coming year we will be targeting efforts on South/South cooperation and coordination, encouraging the sharing of experiences and best-practices between countries and regions that share similar challenges in relation to political oppression, funding and security.
With the worrying trend towards populism and fake news, news fabrication has become an ongoing concern for all media practitioners. GFMD’s mission to better the reputation of the media and the media development sector is all the more crucial today. The media development sector needs to reach out to others working for the development of a more prosperous and democratic world and to see beyond the borders of our field of work.
The coming year will be challenging to navigate but also offers plenty of opportunities for GFMD and its members to contribute to the process of improving democracy on both a local and global scale.
Global Forum for Media Development