MediaDev effectiveness

Research, reports and articles about the effectiveness of media development, as well as the priorities and strategies of donors.

This resource page is a work in progress. Please get in touch to let us know what is missing using this form.

GFMD IMPACT Policy Briefing

In the context of the process to "Renew the principles for effective media assistance" GFMD IMPACT analysed the scope and focus of media assistance coordination efforts (in Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine and in a few other cases), highlighting common pitfalls as well as best practice.The report presents a set of recommendations for practical steps that could be used to orchestrate future coordination initiatives, including in conflict and emergency situations.

For more information contact the GFMD IMPACT help desk.

GLOBAL MEDIA JOURNAL: GERMAN EDITION- Laura Gianna Guntrum, Mira KeBler, Jignesh Patel, Anna Varfolomeeva

"Journalists and ethnographic researchers, such as anthropologists, sociologists or media scholars, have comparable ways of establishing initial contacts with people from their fields of interest. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and consequential travel restrictions and social distancing, it has become increasingly difficult to access a field. Taking inspiration from social anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (2004, p. 226), who compared journalists and anthropologists as “neighboring groups engaged in a somehow parallel pursuit,” this article explores what researchers may learn from practitioners who conduct research without being on-site."


The report is available here.

This report was conducted by a team of six academics and researchers from different universities, and evaluates the Media Freedom Coalition and its work. It concludes by stating that the MFC "requires a ‘re-set’ and ‘re-injection of energy and funds’ in the next two to three years if it is to achieve its original aims, and provides a scorecard and recommendations to support future development."


The full report is available here.

"The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has commissioned iMedia Associates (iMedia) to conduct a Capitalisation Exercise (CapEx) of its media assistance, with the primary objective of examining its current programmes and bringing out lessons learned. As the second output1 of this CapEx, iMedia has carried out a review of what other donors are doing on media assistance. As agreed, it focuses on current media support by five donors/agencies: DFID (UK Aid), Sida (Sweden), UNESCO, UNDP and the Knight Foundation. We have chosen the five donors to reflect the diversity of donor-types, namely two large and influential Western donors (UK’s DFID and Swedish Sida), agencies in the UN system (UNDP and UNESCO) and a well-endowed US-based private foundation (Knight Foundation2). This review of other donors also synthesises key findings from a literature review of the wider media assistance sector in order to identify good practice and situate SDC’s approach in relation to other donors. Our emphasis is on current programmes, policy documents and funding mechanisms."

Center for International Media Assistance and National Endowment for Democracy - ANYA SCHIFFRIN

The full report is available here.

"This trend and its important implications for journalists and the public have previously been examined,4 but primarily with a focus on non-profit funding for outlets in the Global North, such as National Public Radio in the United States, or the UK’s Guardian. This report instead examines the nature of this relationship in media houses in the Global South. Precise figures on how much private donors spend in developing countries to underwrite the production of news or new-type content on their priority topic areas is difficult to parse from the budget data they release, in part because most of these monies often flow first to an intermediary organization. Still, there are some sources of indicative data on this phenomenon."


UNESCO’s World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Global Report 2021/2022, analyses the state of media freedom, pluralism, independence, and safety of journalists over the past five years. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to information has never been more imperative. News media has struggled to keep up with the demand for reliable and quality news as revenue declines and limited capacities. This issue has particularly affected the Global South. This crisis was further accelerated by the easy access that audiences found to disinformation, leading to "a pandemic of non-verified or misleading information. Such falsehoods- spread intentionally or not- sowed confusion, division and, discord, impacting lives and livelihoods around the world."

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - TARA SUSMAN-PEÑA

The full report is available here.

"Media development–donor support for strengthening the quality, independence, and sustainability of the news media–has comprised only about 0.5 percent of overall aid to developing countries. Most stakeholders in international development have never even heard of media development. Should media development’s track record earn it a more central place in international development?"

Forum Media and Development (FOME)- FABÍOLA ORTÍZ DOS SANTOS

The full report is available here.

"Peace journalism has become a popular concept in the study of the media’s role in conflicts in the early 21st century. This literature review seeks to determine whether peace journalism can be considered a tool for the field of media development, formulating some concrete recommendations for practitioners. Defining the core tenets of peace journalism, it discusses the ways in which journalists have been perceived as contributors to peace and the extents to which this notion has been both criticised and used in media development."

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) - HERMAN WASSERMAN

The full PDF of the report is available here. A summary of this report, by Nina Sachdev, is available here.

News Media and Development Network - SARAH ARMOUR-JONES, JESSICA CLARK

"Around the globe, philanthropy plays a crucial role in supporting a variety of diverse media-related initiatives, including strengthening media institutions, improving democratic processes, raising awareness and advocacy through public service radio campaigns addressing health issues, ensuring equitable access to communication technologies, and protecting freedom of expression."


  • A regional coalition can help set norms and standards for democratic media by tapping into the leverage points and frameworks of regional institutions and amplifying national-level priorities in regional and global debates.

  • Countries with stronger environments for independent media can support the reform agendas of restrictive countries through knowledge sharing and joint advocacy.

  • For a coalition to be effective, it needs clear goals and a decentralized structure that avoids imposing hierarchy or encouraging unhealthy competition over funding.

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) - LAURA SCHWARTZ-HENDERSON


Private foundations and official donors are beginning to recognize their role in a global effort to preserve independent, professional journalism. Amid a series of complex threats to quality news and information, the providers of international assistance are currently deliberating new collaborative efforts.

Shall they join forces to create a new global fund­­, something to buttress the ailing news industry as The Global Fund for Tuberculosis, Malaria and Aids has done for health systems? Shall they focus their support on knowledge, research, and learning amid all of the uncertainties created by fast-evolving digital communication technologies? Or shall they instead direct their support towards assembling the networks and coalitions that can fight for the fundamental reforms needed to enable professional journalism to thrive?

This report, the last in a series that has explored entry points for strengthening international cooperation in the media sector, sheds some light on these questions. Based on 27 interviews with representatives of both private and official donor agencies, it examines the major obstacles and stumbling blocks that will have to be avoided if global support to the media sector is increased.

The institutional impediments to effective aid, the report finds, are frequently related to limited human capacity and expertise in media at the donor organizations and a misalignment of support and needs. The cross-donor collaborations currently being considered can help to address these shortcomings, though not without risks. The report offers some important points for donors to contemplate as they collaborate to support international media development.

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)

The full report is available here.

"Civil society and the ability to exercise the core civic space freedoms – the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly – have been under threat for many years. Governments continue to enact laws and regulations that impede the ability of civil society actors – individuals, organizations and movements – to exist and operate. This challenge – often called “closing civic space” – has been the focus of much study and diagnosis." To this imperative, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) proposed ways in which donors can address this issue.

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) - DANIEL O'MALEY

"Tracking donor efforts to support media development is fundamental to assessing whether enough resources are being directed at these efforts, and whether those resources are being channeled to the areas of most pressing need."

Center for International Media Support - MARY MYERS & LINET ANGAYA JUMA

When donors provide assistance to the media sector, they frequently back projects that aim to strengthen the media’s contribution to good governance in some way or another. This kind of funding is consistent with recent declarations made by the international community on the importance of protecting independent media for the sake of democracy and development. Yet, in the bigger picture, donors still only commit a tiny fraction to this sector and appear to be responding slowly, if at all, to the unique challenges of press freedom in the digital age.

• Media assistance represented on average just .3 percent of total official development aid (ODA) between 2010 and 2015.

• Donor flows to media are small, but are holding steady.

• China is an increasingly active player in terms of global media aid flows, although its interventions are largely focused on developing infrastructure and take the form of loans rather than development grants.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)- MARY MYERS, NICOLA HARFORD, KATIE BARTHOLOMEW

The full report is available here.

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) - SHANTI KALATHIL


Funding to support independent media remains a small, but vital part of international assistance. But while the share of aid directed at this issue remains steady, there are signs that priorities within this field of international support may be shifting.

This report looks at the trends identified by CIMA in its efforts to profile the major donors in the field of media development assistance, situating the emerging priorities within a brief history of the field.

Assistance to media development, the report suggests, is beginning to acknowledge the importance of supporting media ecosystems more broadly, though perhaps not as quickly as some observers would like. The report also highlights several other important findings.

  • Media development is emerging as a distinct funding area, but the lack of common budget codes still makes it difficult to trace spending on this topic.

  • Though North-South funding continues to predominate, funds from new private donors and new governmental donors are beginning to reshape the sector.

  • Research on media and media development, while not entirely neglected, remains a low priority in spite of being a recognized need.

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) - MADELINE STOKES

International development organizations tend to agree that more coordination is better in order to reduce activity duplication and scale successful projects. Indeed, it’s vital to be strategic about funding and approaches to common causes, particularly when it comes to media development for which funding is scarce. We’ve all seen international organizations try to improve coordination over the years in different forms—usually encouraged by donors—yet despite pouring money into pricey coordination activities, convoluted funding schemes and overlapping development approaches have persisted.

Center for International Media Development (CIMA), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), National Endowment for Democracy (NED)- EDUARDO GONZÁLEZ CAUHAPÉ-CAZAUX, SHANTHI KALATHIL

The full report is available here.

"In the wake of the horrific attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, freedom of expression has become a flashpoint in international debate. Many world leaders have expressed support for freedom of speech, and a lively global discussion about its role and limits has ensued."

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The ability of citizens to demand accountability and more open government is fundamental to good governance. There is growing recognition of the need for new approaches to the ways in which donors support accountability, but no broad agreement on what changed practice looks like. This publication aims to provide more clarity on the emerging practice. Based on four country studies Mali, Mozambique, Peru and Uganda, a survey of donor innovations and cutting-edge analysis in this field, and the findings of a series of special high-level international dialogues on how to best support accountability support to parliaments, political parties, elections and the media.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The full report is available here.

"The term “media” in this paper encompasses all the ways in which people in developing countries access information and use communication, including mobile telephony and the internet. The paper acknowledges that issues of open government, open data and civil society efforts to increase access to information, and increase transparency and accountability are closely linked to issues of the role of the media. However, it does not focus predominantly on these issues which are intensively covered elsewhere."

Working Party on Aid Effectiveness for the Busan High Level Forum

The full report is available here.


The full report is available here.

This report maps the evolution of evaluation and donor decision making in media development over the last two decades. Through interviews with media development donors, implementers and academics, we examine major donor perspectives on monitoring and evaluation (M&E), the main challenges within media development M&E, how donors define its goals and methods, and how they incorporate M&E into their funding decisions, if at all. The goal of this report is to aggregate the expertise of those experts with practical experience in all aspects of media development M&E. We find a vast majority of those interviewed believe there has been an increased emphasis on M&E, many report challenges when designing and implementing M&E, and donors do not always tie their funding decisions to M&E.


The Media Map Project was created to interrogate the 1 Estimates of current spending on media development are extremely difcult make with precision, due to poor donor documentation, and range from 0.3% of all U.S. aid (the United States isthe largest bilateral donor to media development) (Mottaz, 2010)to 0.6% of all aid (as estimated by D. Kaufmann in a presenta-tion entitled “On Media Development & Freedoms in a Governance Context: An Outsider’s Reections, with Some Empirics,” presented at OECD DAC GOVNET meeting on June 7, 2011.) evidence on the connections between media and devel-opment, as well as to make global data on the mediasector more accessible to researchers, policymakers,and practitioners.

This series of case studies addresses more specifc questions regarding the impact of donor interventionsthat support the media in developing countries. 2 Thefollowing key questions focus on the last two decades of donor support to independent media in seven countries.Who are the major actors? What are the major activi-ties? Which activities have a positive impact? Which activities fail? Why? Finally, we go beyond the reec - tive exercise of “best practices and lessons learned” to offer evidence for donors interested in improving theeffectiveness and relevance of their media support.These studies are intended for donors, policymakers,and media development practitioners alike


The full report is available here.

"Media development emerged as a significant component of international development aid in 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Civil society and development workers attributed communism‘s end, at least in part, to the introduction of dissident voices via radio stations like Radio Free Europe (RFE) and the underground replication and distribution of restricted publications (samizdat).1 As the Iron Curtain tumbled down, countless agencies and actors poured into Eastern Europe, contributing significant amounts of money to help develop independent media and encourage full democratic transitions.2 In the ensuing years, media development activities have expanded both in area and scope. Concurrently, a number of reports, studies, articles, and books have come out that reflect on how and why the media should be developed. However, as of yet, media development remains a relatively little known and poorly understood component of international development, continuing to comprise a small fraction of over all donor spending. The following document chronicles existing theories, reports, and studies about the practice of media development. Together, this body of literature demonstrates medias‘ current and potential utility as a tool with which to achieve and facilitate broader economic, social, and political development aims and objectives."


For non-academic research, reports and articles on development effectiveness go to


This resource page is a work in progress. Please get in touch to let us know what is missing using this form.

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