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Media and Development: The Dysfunctional Alliance

Mark M. Nelson | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: This essay looks at the dysfunctional relationship between overall international development assistance and more specific support to the media sector. While the international donor community sees the potential of independent media in developing countries to contribute to societies’ economic and social progress, international development policies rarely have a coherent, integrated approach to the media sector, and foreign assistance often fails to achieve its goal of helping countries create a sustainable, independent media that acts in the interests of society as a whole. Indeed, leaders of many countries have decided that media—and especially unfettered, independent media—is more likely to be an obstacle, at least to their political fortunes, than a support.
The author proposes three ways that the international community could improve its work on media development and build stronger political commitment for independent media. First is strengthening country leadership and ownership of media development initiatives. This requires building local knowledge about the role of media in open societies and about how to manage a strong, independent media system. Second is integration of media development work within the broader development agenda, leveraging more of the $135 billion that donors spend annually on official development assistance. Third is improving data, diagnostics, and learning on the media sector, particularly in developing countries, and creating a better understanding of how country-level media sectors are evolving, and how they can be best supported.

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.

Call for Papers for a Special Issue – Winter 2021

Global Digital Media from Intersectional, Queerfeminist and Post- and Decolonial Perspectives


You are invited to submit abstracts for this Special Issue aiming at strengthening critical perspectives in Global Media Studies as well as international communication in order to expand and challenge the hegemonic canon of media studies.

Please check the following PDF for details: D / ENG.

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Open Call for next issues


You are invited to send full paper submissions addressing any topic relevant to international or transcultural communication and media to gmj[at]uni-erfurt.de.

Please check our styleguide D / ENG.

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The Global Media Journal - German Edition (GMJ-DE) is part of a network of academic peer-reviewed open-access journals around the world

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The German Edition is edited by Prof. Dr. Carola Richter and Dr. Christine Horz and hosted at Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Erfurt.

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