Media Development

Applying development to improve media freedom conditions in fragile environments

by Vincent Peyrègne | October 28, 2020

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 more than seven decades. WAN-IFRA applies a dual approach to supporting media freedom: It addresses political and structural constraints to media freedom through advocacy, and applies development to improve media freedom conditions in fragile states. Our media development actions include capacity building initiatives such as skills development training, coaching, mentoring, networking and skills-exchange activities.

WAN-IFRA’s unique positioning within the media development sector.

WAN-IFRA is distinct from other actors in the media freedom sector due to its unique ability to engage, mobilise and empower the media industry to tackle media freedom challenges. WAN-IFRA has four key strategic programmatic areas to improve media freedom conditions for individuals and their organisations.

The Media Freedom department follows a strategic plan formally approved by the Media Freedom Board in June 2018. The Strategic Plan articulates in more detail WAN-IFRA’s unique positioning within the media development sector. The strategic plan is revisited and revised in cooperation with the Media Freedom Board on an annual basis. It focuses on individual skills and expertise development drawn directly from the industry (peer-to-peer and south-to-south knowledge sharing); a collective presence as the industry, resulting in a strong advocacy voice that promotes solidarity across the sector (advocacy committees; local/regional associations); the creation of a desirable global professional community in business, editorial, innovation). It is grounded on programme models with tested and adaptable approaches that work toward local ownership and institution strengthening.

Four key strategic programmatic areas to improve media freedom conditions and encourage meaningful change within societies.

WAN-IFRA has developed four core models to achieve its media freedom objectives of strengthening business and editorial competencies of media professionals, increasing the diversity in leadership and voices within media, and improving environmental conditions for media freedom.

Our four strategic programmes are designed with maximum flexibility to work standalone or in combination to address what WAN-IFRA believes are key priority areas for support to media operating in challenging environments. All four programmes apply tried and tested approaches to building the capacity of media professionals and their organisations to withstand challenges to press freedom, assist with business and professional development, strengthen editorial quality and output, and address gender imbalance in the news industry. Our four strategic programme areas are the ‘tools’ that we apply to achieve this:

1 Media Freedom Committees
With its regional Media Freedom Committees, WAN-IFRA looks to empower media professionals to better advocate for freedoms and surmount the challenges that prevent a free press from flourishing.
Type of Activities  Physical safety training of journalists and editors; digital security training; newsroom safety assessments; professional skills workshops (fighting ‘fake news’ and misinformation; ethics, professionalism and hate speech; social impact reporting, etc.); advocacy and campaigning on local priority issues and challenges; professional network building and solidarity initiatives; public events and engagement with local communities.
Where operational Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine.

2 Women in News
The WAN-IFRA Women in News initiative equip women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions, while partnering with media to identify industry-led solutions to close the gender gap in their newsrooms, boardrooms, and in the content they produce.
Type of Activities media management skills development, mentoring, coaching, networking to build the leadership competencies of women media professionals, as well as in-house advisory services to assist media to develop internal policies and practices to achieve greater gender balance and operational excellence. (Includes bespoke training in mobile journalism, career management, management strategy, as well as increasing gender balance in news content and building a gender strategy.) Throughout programme activities, every opportunity is made for cross border networking and exchanges.
Where operational Botswana, Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Palestine, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

3 Media Management Mentoring
We prioritize mentoring as a key contributor to the development of management capacity in support of strengthening organisational foundations for sustainability.
Types of Activities This programme is rooted in the deep value of peer-led mentoring as a method of developing the media management competencies of media partners. Given the current challenges in today’s media landscape, the emphasis is often on digital strategy and operations. Mentoring is led by members of the WAN-IFRA Media Freedom Brain Trust, often facilitated through close cooperation with national association members. Mentors will conduct virtual as well as in-house mentoring, making onsite visits to media partners at key points during the programme period. Complementary activities included participation in regional digitally focused WAN-IFRA conferences, online and in-person training/workshops on core media management topics. Programme participants from different regions will link up for peer-to-peer mentoring when possible. Newsroom study tours may also take place.
Where operational Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Tunisia, Vietnam.

4 Building Newsroom Innovation Culture
Our work on making innovation accessible to all encourages media to strengthen its social impact within local communities via exposure to the latest techniques and innovative thinking.
Types of activities Mentoring individuals and supporting news organisations in their innovation change process, incubating ideas from initial concept through to implementation; connecting local media innovators with local, regional and global networks for funding and investment opportunities, product research and development, collaborative working and problem-solving, etc.; workshops and seminars to orientate and raise standards in the newsroom innovation process and to encourage buy-in from management and the wider institution; project development and individual coaching; project proposal, pitch development and innovation grants to encourage media to include social impact and community/audience engagement in their innovative thinking.
Where operational Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine.

We are currently engaged in 25 countries with over 120 media organisations and some 1,000+ media professionals in Latin America, MENA, Africa, and Southeast Asia. It is a long-term goal of WAN-IFRA’s global Media Freedom Strategy to be in a position to offer support from across four strategic programmatic areas to each individual country in which our media freedom programmes are engaged:



Vincent Peyrègne

Vincent Peyrègne took up duties as Chief Executive Officer of WAN-IFRA in 2012. Prior to joining WAN-IFRA, he was Head of Development at Edipresse in Switzerland with responsibility for audience insights and editorial marketing research and product development, before joining the office of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication as senior adviser to the Minister.

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