A glossary of terms related to international development aid, media development and journalism support.

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This page features a lexicon of terms relevant to international development aid, media development and journalism support.

Asset recovery

Asset recovery involves finding the proceeds of corruption hidden in foreign jurisdictions and returning them to their country of origin. Asset recovery represents a huge opportunity to find needed development funds and sends a clear message to citizens that corruption is not being tolerated. (Brookings Institute, 2021)

Civil society

“Occupying the middle ground between the state and private life, the civil sphere encompasses everything from associations to protests to church groups to nongovernmental organisations.” (from The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society by M. Edwards, 2011, OUP)

Communication for Development (C4D)

Inclusive of approaches known as behavior change communication, social and behavior change, and entertainment-education, C4D traditionally aims to foster pre-determined awareness, attitudes, and ultimately behaviors that have proven to contribute to better health or development. Well established and relatively well funded, this field boasts the ability to make credible links between donor investments and desired health outcomes. (CIMA Book Review of Martin Scott’s Media and Development - 2014)

De-risking innovation

De-risking innovation is a term used to describe how

"international aid can be leveraged to identify and test new approaches that can then be scaled up by government or the private sector." This approach is used as "governments and the private sector are often not able to take the risks required to develop more cost-effective and scalable solutions." (Brookings Institute, 2021)

Development finance

Development finance is the use of public sector resources to catalyze private capital investments in developing countries. It can take many forms including direct equity investments, loans and loan guarantees, political risk insurance, and technical assistance to identify and accelerate investment projects. (Brookings Institute, 2021)

See also Development finance: Filling today’s funding gap (2018) Brookings Institite - George Ingram and Robert A. Mosbacher, Jr.

Digitisation (or Digitalisation)

Digital transformation impacts on human society and activities as a whole. This disruptive, transformational process can be described as the ‘digital revolution’ or the third industrial revolution. It is important for the media sector in Namibia to be aware that digitization has taken many forms and advanced in many formats. The media sector is on the cusp of a new wave of disruption as artificial intelligence technologies start to impact the real world, driving greater efficiency and automation on the one hand, but also enabling content to be remixed in unpredictable ways. This hopefully will help media companies do more with less, as well as open up opportunities in the creation and distribution of smarter content. (Media viability: discussion paper for Namibian media)

Domestic resource mobilization (DRM)

Domestic resource mobilization (DRM) is what national governments employ to increase their revenue, particularly through fair, effective, and efficient tax collection. When donor countries and other international organizations help and incentivize governments to carry out DRM more effectively, it also helps them to finance their own development needs. (Brookings Institute, 2021)


What are the best methodologies for helping countries to produce a high-quality, sustainable and independent media? How do we design these programs and measure results? Those are the questions we are trying to answer by looking at the concept of effectiveness. Ensuring the effectiveness and improving outcomes from media development interventions is one of the biggest challenges facing not only donors and program implementers but also country-level activists. (CIMA)


Despite the role that media plays in helping to build free and open societies, media development programs are often fragmented and poorly funded, making up a tiny fraction of overall development spending. The estimated $625 million spent on media development each year comes from a variety of sources, however, including governments and private institutions. The funding models for media development projects vary from top-down approaches to grassroots investment. (CIMA)

Independent media

Media not owned or directly operated by the state, a political party, a religious order, an ethnic entity, a lobby group, or anyone promoting a particular ideology or a particular narrative. It is increasingly difficult to draw clear definitions for independent media: It requires detailed content analysis over time, and the degree of independence can shift as circumstances change. (PRIMED)

Example: As part of due diligence, the PRIMED project will conduct detailed content analysis to understand the extent of editorial independence of proposed partners. During the PRIMED project, the term "independent media" will be used sparingly to describe outlets that have shown no editorial bias.


In the 21st century, new practices, new actors, and new arenas are changing the media landscape. Access to information, and access to the technologies that provide that information, are key to success in the information age. With the breathtaking pace of evolution in new technologies, including the spread of mobile phones throughout the world, media developers are finding new ways to achieve their goals. (CIMA)

Innovation is the action or process of innovating—creating an invention linked to commercial or social exploitation. This typically entails the exploitation of a new product, service or process leading to results in marketplace commercialisation. It involves a strategic process and can be at a system level, competence level or incremental level. (Media viability: discussion paper for Namibian media)

Institutional viability

A resilient, resourceful, and innovative media outlet that is strong enough to maintain its editorial independence and fulfil its critical role of providing society with relevant timely and reliable information. Viability implies an enduring nature, in that media must be able to pay for the production and distribution of public interest content in the long term. Viability may, but does not necessarily, imply profitability, and revenues may come from any source (for example, advertising, philanthropic grants, state subsidies, user subscriptions). (PRIMED - This is derived from Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF)'s definition of viability)


The media is assumed to denote mainly (but not exclusively) the news media, and to encompass all printed, electronic and digital forms of mass communication. (BBC Media Action)

Media development

The term media development refers to evolution and change in the fields of news media and communications. Such change relates to a range of institutions, practices, and behaviors including the rule of law, freedoms of expression and press, education systems for journalists, business environments, capacities of journalists and managers, as well as support for a diversity of views in society. This evolution can be stimulated by donor support, private investment, or local processes of change led by media owners, managers, journalists, media industry associations, and other collective efforts. (CIMA)

Media development versus media for development

Within the media development sector, many experts differentiate between ‘media development’ and ‘media for development’. While media development seeks to develop the media sector in a country as an intrinsic good it its own right, media for development tends to work with or through the media to achieve developmental objectives, such as better governance, improved health, reduced social or political marginalisation or increased income for people living in poverty. (BBC Media Action)

Media representations of development

Characterized by the author [Martin Scott] as the portrayal of the “global South” and development efforts to Northern audiences, these take the form of humanitarian appeals, NGO fundraising efforts, news, documentaries, films, novels, reality TV, and more. Such efforts often attempt to show both causes and solutions (usually entailing Northern intervention) to global poverty, disease, inequity and more. Among global development practitioners, this wide-ranging set of ideas and formats doesn’t get much notice, and is not often analyzed as a whole, or for its effects on the other fields. (CIMA Book Review of Martin Scott’s Media and Development - 2014)

Media resilience

The ability of communities of media producers, comprised of organisations, networks of individuals, collectives, and other organisational forms, to collectively produce information and journalism that help people participate in civic and political life, regardless of any environmental shocks and stresses, such as sustained or opportunistic attempts of coercion or the success or failure of any one media outlet. (PRIMED)

Media sustainability or Media viability

Media Viability is the ability of media outlets and media landscapes to produce high-quality journalism in a sustainable way. Media viability is crucial for citizens to have stable access to reliable information. (Deutsche Welle Akademie - Media Viability Indicators)

Media sustainability concerns the continuous financial viability of media operations. “Sustainability” and “viability” are used interchangeably by the media development sector, with differing interpretations of what this means in practice. “Viability”, which “is not limited to financial sustainability but also the ability and capacity of media outlets to produce high-quality journalism in the long-term”. Media “viability” is about the existing and potential ability of individual media partners to cover the cost of producing and distributing public interest journalism without having to compromise their values and ethical standards. In so doing, media fulfil a demand or perceived need for this content. “Media business viability” therefore relates to the capabilities on the business side of individual media operations and their requirements for running those over time.

Media viability and sustainability is also an important issue for overall press freedom since a media outlet that is under considerable financial pressure is far more likely to cut back on journalistic capacity and curtail reporting that might negatively impact advertisers and other revenue-providers whether private or state. Furthermore, a lack of resources can impact on the level and scale of quality reporting that a media organisation can conduct. (Media viability: discussion paper for Namibian media)

Non-government/non-state media

Replaces the imprecise use of "independent media", as well as other terms such as "private media", "commercial outlets", or "community media". The latter will still be used, however, especially in the case of Sierra Leone, where such a distinction is useful. The programme recognises the scarcity of independent media outlets in the three countries and plans to be working with a variety of outlets with different business models and varying degrees of non-affiliation. (PRIMED)

Official development finance (ODF)

Official development finance is measured in relation to the receipts of developing countries. It is a broad measure of developing countries’ official receipts for developmental purposes, and is defined as the sum of bilateral ODA and bilateral other official flows (e.g. non-concessional developmental loans) except grants and loans for commercial purposes, and all grants and loans by multilateral development institutions. (OECD)

Official development assistance (ODA)

The term “aid” usually refers to official development assistance (ODA).

ODA is defined as flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients and to multilateral institutions which are provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies. In addition, each transaction must be administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and be concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25% (calculated at a rate of discount of 10%). (OECD)

Public dialogue

Public dialogue refers to engagement between and among citizens, civil society and politicians on public policy and issues of public importance faced by individuals, communities and society as a whole. (BBC Media Action)

Public interest content

News, current affairs, and any other programming formats that act as conduits through which the public's right to information may be served. Anyone producing public interest content will invariably need to adhere to ethical professional standards. This term is used in PRIMED instead of "quality journalism". Public interest content can be provided by media outlets with varying operating and ownership models, including outlets that have some political/ethnic affiliation. (PRIMED)

SDG 16.10

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

16.10 - ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.


Sustainability is media’s ability to operate independently over time. This means independent of editorial or financial interference or influence, and thus refers to the legal, economic, and political enabling environments for media organizations and journalists. At the societal level, media’s sustainability is ensured by stable legal structures and a healthy marketplace that keep the press free and open, where ownership structures reflect a diversity of opinions. (CIMA)

Transitional countries

Transitional countries can either be defined as those that have made a shift away from autocracy toward democracy, or as those economies that have moved from central planning towards market systems. (BBC Media Action)

EU Aid Explorer - Glossary of Terms and Concept

For an explanation of the main terms and concepts used in the EU Aid Explorer, see below. For a more detailed Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts concerning Official Development Assistance and an Index of financing for sustainable development terms, please consult the website of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. For detailed information about the IATI Standard see the website of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

OECD - DAC Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts

OECD - Index of financing for sustainable development terms


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