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Blog by James Deane published on www.bbc.co.uk/blogs

Author: Olga Komarova | 14. May 2018

After years in the doldrums, support to independent media shows signs of being revitalised. Many other donors – from philanthropic foundations to bilateral and multilateral development agencies – are recognising that prospects for human progress in the 21st century are increasingly tied to how people are informed or misinformed, how information is controlled or liberated, and how media institutions remain independent in the face of authoritarian or factional power. It is rooted in a recognition too of just how essential good journalism is to functioning democracies (take your pick from Panama PapersParadise PapersCambridge Analytica and myriad other examples from around the world).

The media support community has been a gloomy place in recent years. The heyday of independent media support was in the 1990s and 2000s when democracy was – or at least appeared to be – sweeping the world. The last two years have been especially depressing with increasingly successful clampdowns by authoritarians, unprecedented numbers of journalists killed or imprisoned, the ever more influential role of misinformation and disinformation in disrupting democratic politics, the growth of propaganda and counter propaganda in the context of violent extremism and a degradation of respect for media freedom, not least in the US.

But it isn’t just the backdrop of world events that has darkened the mood within the media support community. It was the lack of success many traditional efforts had in really bringing into being the kinds of free, plural and professional media systems that we were collectively working to achieve.

If investment in media assistance is to return as an important development priority – and I believe it is vital that it does – then it needs to learn from what has worked and not worked in the past.

In the five part blog series, published around World Press Freedom Day, James Deane asks why media development efforts have not had the kind of impact that their backers and investors had hoped, especially in the fragile states where most international development donors are focusing their support.

Read full blog by James Deane published on 30 April, 2018 here.


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