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Bring back the Audience: A Discussion of the Lack of Audience Research in the Field of Media Development

Martin Scott & Christoph Dietz | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: This paper strives to highlight the significant lack of audience research in the field of media development and the consequences of this gap – both for project design and policy making – but also for broader efforts to integrate media into governance debates. Whilst this lack of evidence has been noted before, a number of recently published scoping reviews of the relevant literature now enable us to discuss, in detail, the extent and nature of this gap in our knowledge.

Results-Oriented Evaluations: Their Uses, Their Limits and How They are Driving Implementers‘ Coping Strategies

Michel Leroy | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: While the use of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) by media development implementers is well documented, organizations’ coping strategies to adapt to new environments in media and development still remain a relatively unexplored area. The article aims at showing how the theoretical lessons learnt by the industry have been put into practice and how a successful change can be driven within an organization using outside experts.
A results-oriented culture of performance and service has been enforced since the 1990s in the EU. Evaluation systems have been a powerful catalyst in driving the transition from media support to media development and in making the latter more independent from broadcasters and donors. In recent years, changes in media assistance procedures and aims have profoundly modified the traditional landscape. This article will not question these changes, their origin and motivations. It will focus on implementers’ coping strategies to adapt (or not) to these new procedures and aims and how results-oriented evaluations can drive the shift from outputs to outcomes in a changing media development sector.
Can capitalizing on experience be considered a learning process that prepares for change and improves the design and implementation of projects? To what extent can it help to empower the operator as an organization? Referring to various concrete case studies from British, French and German media assistance, the article will focus on virtuous change – the circumstances that encourage structures, as well as donors who fund them, to better define and operationalize their strategies.

Evaluating the Impacts of Media Assistance: Problems and Principles

Jessica Noske-Turner | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: While some form of evaluation has always been a requirement of development projects, in the media assistance field this has predominantly been limited to very basic modes of counting outputs, such as the number of journalists trained or the number of articles produced on a topic. Few media assistance evaluations manage to provide sound evidence of impacts on governance and social change. So far, most responses to the problem of media assistance impact evaluation collate evaluation methodologies and methods into toolkits. This paper suggests that the problem of impact evaluation of media assistance is understood to be more than a simple issue of methods, and outlines three underlying tensions and challenges that stifle implementation of effective practices in media assistance evaluation. First, there are serious conceptual ambiguities that affect evaluation design. Second, bureaucratic systems and imperatives often drive evaluation practices, which reduces their utility and richness. Third, the search for the ultimate method or toolkit of methods for media assistance evaluation tends to overlook the complex epistemological and political undercurrents in the evaluation discipline, which can lead to methods being used without consideration of the ontological implications. Only if these contextual factors are known and understood can effective evaluations be designed that meets all stakeholders’ needs.

International Media Assistance: Experiences and Prospects

Mary Myers, Christoph Dietz & Marie-Soleil Frère | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: As an introduction to this special issue this article deals firstly with defining and clarifying terms and concepts which are used in the context of international media assistance. Secondly, the themes of the different articles in this collection are enumerated: these are broadly the how to of media assistance, evaluation and the ongoing debate about proving impact of media assistance project; negotiating the tensions between the state and the media and finally, the fundamental question of why and to what purpose is assistance to the media sector given in the first place. The first two of these themes are developed in slightly more depth. The piece is rounded off with some further reflections on the history both of the idea of media assistance and of the way it has been practiced in recent decades. It finally looks at the ways research in this field may develop in the future.

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