[FoME] MeCoDEM Policy Brief | Supporting Journalism in Conflict Societies

Ines Drefs drefsi at hotmail.de
Fr Aug 5 11:22:15 CEST 2016


This document is now available for download at: http://www.mecodem.eu/publications/working-papers 

The policy brief puts forward suggestions for improved journalism support in the context of democratisation conflicts. It draws conclusions from interviews with journalists and media development actors. 

Journalists in conflict societies frequently face critical working conditions. Our interviews with journalists from Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa identify political pressure and socio-economic insecurity, a lack of formal in-house training and juniorisation within the newsroom as well as exposure to violence, attempts at interference and a lack of resources on the ground. Trauma and ethical dilemmas create problems in all case study countries. 

Media development organisations regard polarisation and a lack of ethical standards as the main problems in conflict societies. Our interviews with both Europe-based and local media development actors show that their support programmes address journalists as enablers of an inclusive public discourse and as proponents of the human right to freedom of expression. Assistance for journalists increasingly considers the bigger newsroom structure, taking the form of long term counselling or mentoring and often focusing on professional standards and ethics. 

In addition, media development actors emphasise a need for increased coordination and cooperation within the sector, higher prioritisation of media development in foreign policy and a more thorough understanding of local conditions before commencing engagement on the ground. In view of these findings, this policy brief concludes with concrete recommendations as to how media development efforts can be better geared to the realities of conflict reporting, thus enhancing the effectiveness of support measures. 

The recommendations in brief: 

     * To consider the safety of journalists 
     * To take local conditions as a starting point 
     * To intensify research and evaluation activities 
     * To involve multiple stakeholders and facilitate exchange 
     * To prioritise long-term formats 
     * To make allowance for flexible budgets in media development projects 
     * To establish learning and exchange mechanisms between the various organisations that are active on the ground 
     * To apply a qualitative approach for evaluating media development projects

MeCoDEM began on 1 February 2014 and will run over three years. The project investigates the interplay of communication and democratisation conflicts in four countries, Egypt, Kenya, Serbia and South Africa, each of them representing unique aspects of transitional / post-transitional divisions. Based on a comparative case study design, the research covers constitutional conflicts, civic conflicts and conflicts surrounding accountability and good governance. These conflicts constitute arenas of dispute where the media interact with the communicative strategies of governments on the one hand, and political activists and political movements struggling for recognition on the other. MeCoDEM is funded by the European Union within the EU's Seventh Framework Programme. With a budget of 2.2 million Euros, the project consortium includes eight partner institutions from six countries: University of Leeds (coordinating institution), University of Belgrade, University of Hamburg, University of Cape Town, University of Oxford, Stockholm University, Ruhr University Bochum and American University in Cairo. 

Prof Barbara Thomass | Barbara.Thomass at rub.de 
Website: www.mecodem.eu | Twitter:@MeCoDEM


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