Consultation (2019)

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


Practitioners and donors are increasingly eager to collaborate on research into the practicalities of how theories of change are used as a tool for measurement and planning.

Stakeholders asked for both: academic rigour in research and evaluation of media development programmes, as well as an immediate response to urgent requests. The GFMD IMPACT team is capable of doing so, but it would necessitate additional funding, most likely from single sources or pooled funds.

In November 2018, GFMD embarked on a study of how members of its community perceive donor policies and procedures, with the goal of helping to shape discussions on how the planning and management of funding could be improved. The two-month study was informed by a literature review of related research, an analysis of survey responses from GFMD members, one-on-one interviews with selected members, and additional conversations with stakeholders in the field.

This resulting report - Recipient Perceptions of Media Development Assistance - was circulated among donors and practitioners in January 2019 and used as a basis for further advocacy on aid effectiveness and responsiveness.

The study attempted to capture a diversity of perspectives among GFMD members and to encourage honest reflection both within the community as well as with donor counterparts.


The greatest challenges respondents reported where:

  • Lack of donor strategies (58%)

  • Low donor understanding of journalism support and media development (53%)

  • Poor alignment between the sector’s needs and donor priorities (50%).

“The survey responses reflect interviewee input in expressing long-held concerns that many donors still struggle to understand what media development is and why it is important. While some interviewees believe understanding has improved in recent years – including a shift away from the instrumentalisation of media to achieve other development goals – many note that frequent staff turnover, the rarity of specialised staff, and a lack of dedicated strategies can complicate the prioritisation of journalism support and media assistance, particularly in the face of rapid changes in market dynamics, technological advances, and political uncertainties.”

Possible improvements

Among the areas for possible improvements in the planning of media assistance, participants recommended an additional focus on research and learning, including

“the importance of building an evidence base – to help promote understanding of the sector and demonstrate the impact of support – as well as further insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what shows promise. These interviewees would like to see not only stronger articulation of success stories and lessons learned, but other opportunities to honestly examine failure and to creatively explore new approaches, strategies, and solutions.”

These issues were primarily raised by international organisations, rather than by regional or national-level organisations participating in the study.

Thirty-seven per cent of survey respondents (and a number of interviewees) recommended an additional focus on research and learning, including building an evidence base – to help promote understanding of the sector and demonstrate the impact of support – as well as further insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what shows promise.


Other recommendations from interviewees included:

  • Suggestions for a common M&E framework across donors and/or programs;

  • Adapting the scale of reporting to the size of the grant, to mitigate the burden on organizations with multiple grants;

  • Increasing the time that donors spend in the field to provide more meaningful feedback on activities and their success.

  • Transforming the focus on logframes, theories of change, outputs and outcomes, and M&E data to more effectively tell the story of results and impact over time, including the suggestion to offer post-grant funding to measure impact after the initial funding ends.

Read the full recommendations here.


Below is a summary of the report's recommendations that are related to the creation and design of GFMD IMPACT.

Strengthen the exchange of knowledge, communication, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration at all levels (international, regional, and national/local):

  • Between donors and the media development and journalism support community.

  • Among donors, including donors and their own colleagues in other departments, agencies, ministries, or branches of government.

  • Within the media development and journalism support community.

Suggested approaches include:

  • Holding meetings for donors and implementers at the international, regional, and sub-regional levels.

  • Creating dedicated pathways for local organizations to access decision-makers.

  • Building networks with allies in civil society, academia, and the private sector.

Promote an informed and responsive vision for the sector by

  • Institutionalizing knowledge within donor agencies.

  • Developing explicit strategies for media development and journalism support.

  • Supporting research and learning, including space for experimentation and constructive failure.

  • Anticipating future challenges in law and policy, technology, market trends, and political dynamics.

  • Bridging gaps between higher-level conceptual conversations and realities as they are experienced on the ground.

  • Ensuring that audiences – communities and citizens – remain key to the focus of assistance efforts.

Again, this was just a summary. Read the full recommendations here.

Responding to the findings and recommendations of the 2019 study, GFMD sought the input of key members of the donor community on how to best serve their research and analysis needs.

Donor feedback on GFMD’s concept for a media development policy Hub - (Sept. 2019)

GFMD published the results of this consultation in September 2019, in a report summarising the findings, recommendations and major themes that emerged through the consultations.

Participants welcome the idea of a policy initiative, with a particular interest in an online resource centre, greater opportunities for offline discussions, and a help desk to which to turn for dedicated assistance.

Donors who participated in the study said that the initiative should focus on providing concrete and tangible examples, models, and other practical tools and emphasised the importance of it remaining independent from any specific actor or agenda.

Among the subjects of greatest interest were the possibilities for supporting financial viability and options for exploring self-regulation.

Read more about the issues of interest.

The strongest overall recommendation was that the initiative should be practical and actionable; it should provide concrete and usable steps, models, tools, case studies, success stories, best practices, new ideas, and industry trends that demonstrate how and when specific approaches to media assistance can and do work. Participants believe that focus of the initiative should be clear and narrow (that is, not general, generic, or vague) and discuss solutions and not just problems.

Among key terms, participants recommend that the approach be kept “light,” “dynamic,” “iterative,” “flexible,” and “responsive,” with a focus on “digestible,” “plain language.” Participants emphasised that they would like to see examples, evidence, and inspiration across countries and contexts, with lessons learned and critical factors detailing what can lead to change and under what conditions. This includes the ability to adapt recommendations to local dynamics, as well as the need to remain consistently up to date in the face of rapid changes.

A number of participants emphatically reminded of the importance of ensuring that local voices, particularly from the Global South, are included throughout the initiative.

Three general areas emerged as possible approaches (with less clarity at this stage as to whether they should be separate, parallel, or sequential steps):

  • The collection and curation of resources

  • A convening and coordinating capacity

  • And an on-demand help desk service.

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