WAN-IFRA celebrates World Press Freedom Day

2022-05-03. In a year punctuated by crises – from the ongoing financial and organisational challenges wrought by COVID-19 to the repercussions of a coup d’état in Myanmar, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, and the current Russian invasion of Ukraine – the ability of journalists to report freely, and safely, has perhaps never been so undermined.

by Andrew Heslop | May 3, 2022

The incredible support received from WAN-IFRA members and partners in response to these challenges shows the unprecedented capacity of this industry to work together to sustain independent media.

To mark 3 May, World Press Freedom Day we highlight WAN-IFRA’s work over the past 12 months to defend and promote media freedom worldwide.

Please consider continuing your support to our efforts and, above all, stand in solidarity with colleagues fighting for the freedom of the press, wherever it is threatened.

‘We, the media’

With an unprecedented response to the call for support to our Ukrainian colleagues over the past weeks, WAN-IFRA issues heartfelt thanks to all our members and partners who are helping ensure the independent press in Ukraine maintains its resistance in the face of ongoing conflict.

  • Direct financial support – WAN-IFRA has so far raised over €170,000 through the ‘We, the media’ fund. Via member associations UAPP-UAMB and AIRPPU, the support has reached 150+ publications and news organisations and has contributed to maintaining salaries, providing funds for essential services, and keeping the media running and operational throughout Ukraine.
  • Newsprint – Thanks to our Norwegian member association MBL and supplier Norske Skog, a transfer of 48 tonnes of newsprint will reach Ukraine via our colleagues at Agora in Poland.
  • Insurance – WAN-IFRA has established an insurance fund in conjunction with the team at Insurance for Local Media to cover local journalists working in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions.

Tragically, the conflict in Ukraine continues and looks set to extend beyond our current capacity to offer long-term support to our colleagues.

We urge those of you in a position to do so to contribute to our ‘We, the media’ fund so that we can extend the support outlined above and, importantly, prepare for the rebuilding that will be necessary when peace finally does come. For this crisis, and the ones yet to come, WAN-IFRA will maintain the fund in order to react on behalf of the world’s press, wherever it is threatened.

Over €750,000 in direct support to media

An unprecedented economic crisis, exacerbated and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has decimated media worldwide. The collapse of Afghanistan and the global climate emergency has provided additional strain on the media’s capacity to maintain operations and continue reporting in the public interest. WAN-IFRA responded with over €750,000 of direct financial support to local media and media professionals working in some of the world’s most challenging markets.

From €250,000 in climate reporting grants and €245,000 in Social Impact Reporting Initiative (SIRI) grants for African media organisations, to more than €200,000 worth of individual reporting bursaries for women journalists, €30,000 of emergency aid to colleagues in Afghanistan, and €40,000 of essential PPE to report safely in COVID times, we continue to deliver in response to the needs of our media partners.

Focus: Afghanistan

Via our Afghan Journalist Appeal, WAN-IFRA members reacted generously in support of Afghan colleagues displaced by the Taliban seizure of power, offering work placements and job opportunities to those forced to flee the country on top of direct financial assistance.

Video: This is the story of Fahim Abed, who recently joined the team at the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan had a particularly acute impact on the rights of women journalists, many of whom lost their livelihoods overnight or were forced into hiding. In response, WAN-IFRA launched an emergency Social Impact Reporting Initiative totalling €60,000, issuing support to 30 Afghan women journalists to produce stories that might otherwise not have been told by mainstream media. The resulting compilation of stories, both moving and harrowing, will be translated and published later in 2022.

Promoting a safety culture

Safety training in Mindanao, the Philippines, April 2018. Ph: Mike Capillames

Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via an investment of more than €350,000 over the next three years, spreading the culture of safety is a central part of WAN-IFRA’s work. 210 media professionals in Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, Myanmar and the Philippines received comprehensive safety training over the last 12 months, and we delivered digital security and online harassment workshops to 280 women journalists in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The #SaferMedia project targets news organisations to embed the culture of safety at every level. Working with expert safety advisors, currently 30 media outlets in Africa have completed in-depth, organisation-wide safety assessments to determine the specific strategies and resources to be allocated. In parallel, WAN-IFRA is developing the first editors’ safety training platform, together with the most prominent global safety experts and the ACOS (A Culture of Safety) Alliance.

Women in News

WAN-IFRA Women in News partners with media organisations and individuals to close the gender gap in news. It does so in the belief that balanced newsrooms, boardrooms and content are key to building resilient news organisations. Its programmes empower people and organisations to work together in support of a healthier, lasting and inclusive news industry.

Established in 2010, the programme has grown year over year in support of this mission thanks to generous support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All activities within the programme are guided by the independent but mutually reinforcing objectives of increasing gender equality in news organisations, increasing gender balance in news content, and helping media organisations become more stable, which is a defining objective of WAN-IFRA as an organisation in the pursuit of media freedom.

Sexual harassment in media research

A major study surveying more than 2000 journalists from 20 countries reveals sexual harassment is endemic in the media industry.

New data produced by WAN-IFRA Women in News finds on average 40% of women media professionals have experienced sexual harassment of some kind in the workplace. Of those, only 20% chose to report.

To directly counter these trends in the media, WAN-IFRA Women in News works directly with media partners and individual journalists on ways to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace.

Skilling-up news organisations

Over 2000 journalists, editors and newsroom managers were trained by WAN-IFRA Media Freedom over the past 12 months.

Our training opportunities bring unprecedented support to business, administrative and editorial teams within partner newsrooms to increase equality, safety and stability as well as the capacity to produce quality, impactful journalism. Across Eurasia, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, we are engaging directly with 80+ news organisations to skill-up their teams, strengthen operations, and provide training and support in areas they identify.

Relying on the highest level of local and regional expertise, and in combination with leading industry practitioners from our global community, WAN-IFRA Media Freedom delivers the latest standards in data journalism, financial reporting and digital transformation, encourages a culture of safety and emotional well-being, and tackles workplace and online harassment.

Sustained in-house coaching and best practice roundtables provide direct support on how to build toward greater operational stability. Self diagnostic tools on digital maturity combined with regionally customised facilitated hybrid learning modules on how to operationalise digital strategy have helped media partners in more than 25 countries tackle the immense task of digital transformation.

Understanding digital impact

The Digital ABC foundational training programme is designed to help media professionals in any role understand the impact of digital on the news media industry. Specifically designed for media in emerging and transitional contexts, this hybrid self-led and facilitated course contains 30 individual lessons in three progressive modules supported by group assignments, individual coaching sessions and live webinars. Throughout, participants are guided by expert trainers drawn from the media industry who are able to provide practical, regionalised coaching support throughout.

Key facts:

  • Developed exclusively for WAN-IFRA WIN by digital expert Lisa MacLeod
  • Regionally adapted and translated: Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, Indonesian
  • Delivered by best-in-class multi-regional facilitators
  • Module D focusing on content strategy under development
  • More than 188 media professionals have progressed through Digital ABC
  • 100% report greater capacity to resolve business challenges

Media Freedom Committees: Local advocacy, global impact

Roundtable on ‘Media Sustainability in Times of Financial Shock’, Zambia, April 2022. Ph: Joan Chirwa

Formed voluntarily by media professionals, our network of local Media Freedom Committees allows WAN-IFRA to support research and policy initiatives, organise newsroom training and improve business efficiencies in local media operations – all while advocating and emphasising the need for greater press freedom.

Journalist safety training in IndonesiaMyanmarSouth Africa and the Philippines; a public forum on media sustainability in Zambia; a campaign against new press laws in Botswana; and a media policy and legislative reform symposium in Zimbabwe – these are just some of the locally organised Media Freedom Committee activities to have taken place in recent months.

Media Freedom podcast

The Backstory is a podcast series exploring media freedom issues from across the globe. We look at challenging issues that journalists and media organisations are faced with, exploring how they tackle – and surmount – obstacles to continue reporting the news.

The latest episode from our season focused on African media:

  • Meet them where they are: how media can reach youth in Africa
    Africa’s youth population is booming and it’s a demographic that cares deeply about the issues that affect our world. But capturing the attention of young people means understanding what news they want and how they want to get it. Legacy media across the continent are reassessing their offer, while innovative platforms featuring images and video are growing in popularity. In this episode of The Backstory, we’ll look at the ways in which news organisations across Africa are trying to attract – and keep – younger audiences.

Don’t miss these must-listen highlights from previous seasons:

Listen to each episode directly from our website, where you can find links to all seasons, or subscribe via iTunesStitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.


WAN-IFRA believes that increasing media freedom directly strengthens democracy and human rights and is a foundation of societal development, be it economic, cultural or political. This has been a guiding principle of the organisation for seven decades. Our Media Freedom department promotes Equality, Safety and Stability across a portfolio of work that is engaged with media in over 25 countries.

Our work is made possible via major partnerships with the leading media support donors – including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) – as well as generous contributions from our national member associations and individual member companies.

Share via
Copy link