Co-design (2020-2021)

This page outlines the co-design process for GFMD's International Media Policy and Advisory Centre (IMPACT). (Last updated by Tom Law - March 1, 2021)

To ensure that GFMD IMPACT meets the needs and expectations of its diverse stakeholders, GFMD gathered representatives from its membership, the donor community, researchers and academia, media development practitioners, and other experts for a series of co-design sessions in 2020 and early 2021.

  • Three co-design session were held in September 2021 focusing on "GFMD IMPACT's Stakeholders: Engagement and Independence" and "GFMD IMPACT's Help Desk and Other Products and Services"

  • A further session is scheduled for March 2021 to discuss how best to engage academia and researchers in the initiative.

Why use a co-design process?

Co-design sessions were used to ensure the responsiveness of GFMD IMPACT, cultivate ownership among its users and beneficiaries, and lay the foundation for their continued engagement.

Co-design sessions (Sept. 2020)

An external consultant was solicited to design and facilitate the initial co-design sessions to ensure they were conducted impartially and to a high standard.

These co-design sessions were held in September 2020, via Zoom, gathering a total of 23 participants (with some attending more than one session).

  • Two sessions addressed GFMD IMPACT's Stakeholders: Engagement and Independence (10 and 11 September)

  • One session addressed GFMD IMPACT's Help Desk and Other Products and Services (September 16).

Outcomes (Sept. 2020)

The sessions indicated strong support for IMPACT, with a number of shared conclusions, as well as additional questions for follow-up.

In particular, they underscored the specific needs that GFMD IMPACT hopes to fulfil, including:

  • Navigating a complicated and ever-shifting media landscape, including the increasing challenges of the basic survival of news outlets and the added pressures under Covid-19.

  • Offering an “analysis of the analysis” as well as “live, immediate insight” into media development efforts and sector trends.

  • Improving the evidence base for grant-making and other decisions.

  • Helping stakeholders to understand the differences between information, media, and communications; what assistance options each may require; while focusing on how the results of media development assistance might be measured.

  • Providing a space to reflect beyond the day-to-day issues of implementation, to interact with peers, build bridges, break silos, transcend competition, and renew thinking.

  • Employing dynamic tools such as data visualisation and dashboards to facilitate accessibility.

Partners and audiences


Participants in the co-design sessions believed that donors should be the priority target audience for GFMD IMPACT, with a focus on cultivating political will, encouraging consultative and creative processes, providing concrete examples of assistance, and explaining how different forms (e.g., different levels of intervention) can yield different results.

This includes establishing reasonable expectations for assistance, for example with regard to financial sustainability.

While some participants initially raised the concept of “best practices,” by the end of the discussion, they agreed on the greater importance of localisation and contextualisation, emphasising that there is no one model that can be applied to all circumstances.

Recipients of funding

Participants also agreed that partners on the ground would benefit from GFMD IMPACT, and that the ultimate beneficiaries of assistance should also have access to its expertise.

Examples ranged from techniques in investigative journalism and paths to financial viability to strategies for navigating restrictive environments and understanding audience consumption habits and patterns.


The sessions discussed not only who would be IMPACT’s main users, but also its primary contributors.

Academia and researchers

Participants expressed some concern that existing resources are often produced by implementers, which may at times be self-serving or lack a certain level of verification. They thus underscored the particular importance of academics, to instil methodological rigour and legitimacy; some noted the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) as an existing network and potential starting point.

GFMD IMPACT is already engaging with IAMCR's Media Sector Development Group on this and other projects.

One suggestion promoted a partnership between practitioners, academics, and donors, with practitioners providing examples of success stories, academics providing the evidential robustness that establishes these stories as case studies, and donors providing the funding that makes such research possible. This would lend a more “scientific” focus on what works and what does not. These examples could then be presented in formats that can be used for future media support.

Other actors

Other participants raised the importance of including contributions from a wider pool of actors, such as market and audience researchers, as well as the IT industry.

Reservations (Sept. 2020)

While participants widely welcomed the opportunity for discussion, they expressed two related reservations:

  • That the initiative runs the risk of being over-ambitious and that it needs to more concretely pinpoint its centre of focus.

GFMD's planned activities and services for the first year of IMPACT can be found here:

  • Potential overlap with existing initiatives, cautioning against overlap and emphasising the importance of a distinctive, value-added approach.

In response to this GFMD has conducted a mapping exercise of related and potentially overlapping initiatives and have outlined how and why GFMD IMPACT will be distinctive, add value and avoid duplication:

It was also noted that while having an open approach to the first co-design sessions, future discussions should be based around proposals put forward by GFMD on the way forward based on the first sessions.

GFMD IMPACT's next co-design meetings will be focused on the research and academic community to discuss proposals on how to most effectively involve them in the project.

In looking towards future sessions, common themes for further exploration include:

  • Ensuring that the voices and experiences of the Global South are authentically reflected and respected.

This is something that GFMD has been working to address in partnership with IAMCR's Media Sector Development Group and GFMD members.

  • Proposing models of governance (for example, based on funders, experts, or geographical representation).

  • Establishing connections and engaging with potential users on the ground (e.g., donor agencies and practitioners in the field).

  • Mapping and establishing cooperation with other initiatives.

GFMD has reached out to numerous existing initiatives to discuss collaboration and cooperation. These include:

  • Media Impact Funders (MIF)

  • European Funders Forum (run by EJC)

  • Developing a lexicon on media development terms to help donors and practitioners understand each other.

GFMD is in the process of developing a "MediaDev Fundraising Guide" which includes an extensive lexicon of terms. It is scheduled to launch in April 2021.

  • Hosting a first donor-practitioner meeting in early 2021 as part of the PRIMED project.

The first GFMD IMPACT learning meeting will take place on 15 March 2021, focusing on "Theories of change and impact measurement".

  • Launching IMPACT communications products in early 2021.

In preparation for the first GFMD IMPACT learning meeting, a literature review and briefing on "Theories of change and impact measurement" was being produced. This was written up with the learning outcomes of the March learning meeting and published in April 2021.

Co-design session (March 2021)

  • A further session is scheduled for March 2021 to discuss how best to engage academia and researchers in the initiative.

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