Research Programmes

Medas 21 “Media Development Assistance in the 21st Century”- Lessons Learnt from A Media Development Research Program (MEDAS21)

This position paper puts forward suggestions for further practical and theoretical engagement with media development cooperation. It draws from the experience of the four-year graduate school MEDAS 21 engaging with diverse perspectives in this broad field.

‘Media development cooperation’ means the efforts of different actors, often internationally, to both enable, build and strengthen free and independent media (‘media development’) and to use media as a tool (‘media for development’) to work towards development goals (Manyozo, 2012; Scott, 2014). It includes but is not limited to journalism trainings, advocacy for press freedom and right to information, establishment of media outlets, community engagement, production of media contents, media literacy and communication campaigns.

The graduate school MEDAS 21 has tackled these topics through seven independent PhD research projects and one postdoc project in collaboration with eight practice partners in different contexts in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Beyond research and publications, the collaboration resulted in debates, field access, workshops and conferences, collaborative studies and practical efforts to enrich exchange and knowledge about media development cooperation. This made MEDAS 21 a post graduate program that actively sought to contribute to addressing issues of practical relevance.

This paper summarizes important conclusions and learnings drawn from the work in the graduate school and suggests recommendations for future work at the intersection of media development cooperation’s theory and practice.

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