Media Freedom Board

The responsibility of the Media Freedom Board is to guide the strategy of the WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom division including providing approval and maintaining oversight on funding proposals, programme activities and budgets. The Media Freedom Board is made up of individual members of the WAN-IFRA Executive Committee, Board, or Member Association Directors.

The role of the Media Freedom Board is to:

  • Provide guidance and insight on WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom activities and strategic direction.
  • Provide strategic and practical support in WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom fundraising efforts.
  • Provide oversight of and support to Media Freedom activities, with a specific emphasis on programmes that receive funding from donors drawn from his/her country.
  • Approve Funding proposals and budgets.
  • Provide support to WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom activities by participating in missions, or conferences as a representative of the board as requested.
  • Report to WAN-IFRA Executive Committee and to WAN-IFRA Board.
  • Serve as ambassador reflecting WAN-IFRA’s media freedom mission and values; playing an internal advocacy role as needed.


Chair: Victoria Svanberg Acting President, NWT Gruppen AB, Sweden.

Jennifer Bertetto President and CEO, Trib Total Media, United States.

Randi S. Øgrey Chief Executive Officer, MBL Mediebedriftenes Landsforening, Norway.

Andrew Heslop Executive Director Media Freedom, WAN-IFRA.

Melanie Walker Executive Director Media Development Programme, Head Women in News, WAN-IFRA.

Terms of Reference (update, June 11, 2016)

Role and Terms

The WAN-IFRA Media Freedom Advisory Board provides four core functions:

  • Advise on WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom strategic direction and activities;
  • Access to people, resources and networks of strategic support;
  • Advocate internally to uphold the founding principles of WAN-IFRA;
  • Awareness-building around WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom initiatives.

Role of the Advisory Board Chair

  • Act as primary liaison between WAN-IFRA Secretariat and board members;
  • Assist WAN-IFRA in identifying, recruiting and orienting new board members;
  • Serve as impartial contact in cases of suspected corruption (see WAN-IFRA Anti-Corruption and Whistleblower Protection Policies);
  • Chair meetings;
  • Identify and train succession candidate.

Advisory Board Term and Commitment

The responsibility of the Media Freedom Board is to guide the strategy of the media freedom division, including providing approval and maintaining oversight on funding proposals, programme activities and budgets. The Media Freedom Board is made up of individual members of the WAN-IFRA Executive Committee, Board, or Member Association Directors. The CEO also maintains a seat on the Board but at no time may he/she assume the position of Board Chair. The press freedom and media development department heads are considered members at large, and at minimum, one must always be present at the board meetings.

Given its composition, the Media Freedom board has an internal advocacy role to protect and promote the media freedom mandate of the organization as indicated in the WAN-IFRA statutes and in particular:

Preamble “WAN-IFRA defends and promotes press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity”.

Article 1, Basic Principles, paragraphs 1-2

“The basic conviction of WAN-IFRA is that free and independent newspapers and a free and independent news publishing industry play an indispensable role in maintaining free societies and promoting human rights.

WAN-IFRA adheres to the principles of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the obligation in the Constitutive Charter of UNESCO to promote the free flow of ideas through the media.”

If necessary, the board will advocate upholding the founding values and mission of the Association, should the activities or interests of the Association (not-for-profit) and Services (for profit) come into direct conflict.

The Media Freedom board member is selected for the first term of 2 years, which would be extended for the duration of projects for which he/she might have contributed to have raised funds for, or, renewed for additional mandates of 12 months, as agreed upon by the board.

From time to time different profiles might be considered for a seat as discussed and agreed by sitting members of the board for a first mandate of two years, renewable as indicated above.

No less than 5 seats must be filled on the Media Freedom board, excluding that of the CEO, at all times. The Board Chair plus two members must be present in order to achieve Quorum.

Media Freedom department heads report to the Chair of the Board on a monthly basis. The Board meets on a quarterly basis. This is a voluntary position. Board members receive no remuneration or sitting allowance.

This enhanced role for the Media Freedom board and the rules on its composition as described above were formally approved by the WAN-IFRA Board and General Assembly on June 11 2016.

Board members will commit to quarterly board meetings: minimum one yearly in-person and two by conference call. If a member does not make three meetings in a row, they may be asked to leave the board.

Code of Ethics

Given its mission, WAN-IFRA has adopted a Code of Ethics to guide members of its Media Freedom Board, which holds an oversight function of WAN-IFRA’s media freedom activities. The Code contains broad principles reflecting the types of behavior WAN-IFRA expects towards constituents, donors, employees, peers and the public.

This policy is not intended as a stand-alone policy. It does not embody the totality of the WAN-IFRA’s ethical standards, nor does it answer every ethical question or issue that might arise. Rather, it is one element of a broader effort to create and maintain a quality organization that gives ethical conduct the highest priority.

This Code will be reviewed periodically.

Members of the Media Freedom Board should:

  • Listen to our stakeholders and make all reasonable efforts to satisfy their needs and concerns within the scope of our Mission, and strive for excellence and innovation and demonstrate professional respect and responsiveness to donors, members and constituents.
  • Respect the confidentiality of sensitive information about WAN-IFRA, its donors, members, constituents, and employees/consultants.
  • Provide credible and effective oversight to WAN-IFRA’s Media Freedom work without personal bias.
  • Not accept commissions, gifts, payments, loans, promises of future benefits or other items of value from anyone who has or may seek some benefit from WAN-IFRA in return, other than occasional gifts of nominal value that are in keeping with good business ethics.
  • Abide by the governing documents and policies of WAN-IFRA.
  • Be accountable for adhering to this Code of Ethics, as well as WAN-IFRA’s Anti-Corruption and Whistle Blower Protection Policies.
  • Be aware of, and on all occasions avoid to the best of our ability, conflict of interest.
  • Act at all times in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in the best interest of the WAN-IFRA FR, its donors, members, constituents, and reputation.

Definition of Conflict of Interest: A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her role as a member of the WAN-IFRA Media Freedom Board. “Private or personal interest” refers to an individual’s self-interest (e.g. to achieve financial profit or avoid loss, or to gain another special advantage or avoid a disadvantage); the interests of the individual’s immediate family or business partners; or the interests of another organization in which the individual holds a position (voluntary or paid).