Media Development

We are a leader in providing technical support to independent media in emerging, transitional and fragile markets throughout Africa, Asia, Eurasia and the Middle East. In specific, we support the efforts of independent media to become more stable and identify prospects for long-term financial viability to preserve economic independence, we partner with media to drive gender equality and diversity and inclusion, and we strengthen professional networks to help media overcome the isolation within which they operate.

by Vincent Peyrègne | February 8, 2022

WAN-IFRA believes that increasing media freedom directly strengthens democracy and human rights. 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 actions to build capacity of media actors in fragile states and emerging markets. 
Our media development actions include capacity building initiatives such as skills development training, coaching, mentoring, networking and peer-to-peer support activities.

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

WAN-IFRA is distinct from other actors in the media development sector due to our unique ability to engage, mobilise and empower the media industry. WAN-IFRA has a number of  key strategic programmatic areas to strengthen the capacity and support networks of the media professionals and partners we work with. The Media Freedom department follows a strategic plan formally approved by the Media Freedom Board in June 2018. 

Four key strategic programmatic areas 

WAN-IFRA’s externally funded programmes focus on the following thematic areas in support of media freedom: strengthening digital as well as editorial competencies of media professionals, driving equality within media, and improving media freedom conditions – with a focus on safety. WAN-IFRA’s externally funded programmes for 2021-2024 are supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IREX, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Our programmes are active in 20 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab Region, Southeast Asia and Eurasia.

1.  Media Freedom Committees

With its regional Media Freedom Committees, WAN-IFRA helps 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  Botswana, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Palestine, The Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

2. Driving Equality in News Media 

WAN-IFRA Women in News partners with media organisations and individuals to close the gender gap in the news. We do so in the belief that balanced newsrooms, boardrooms and content are key to building resilient news organisations. Our 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 our members, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All activities within the programme are guided by the three 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.

Type of Activities intensive 9-month capacity-building programme focusing on media management and leadership skills development, career coaching, mentoring and networking to build the leadership competencies of women media professionals, as well as in-house support to assist media in developing internal policies and practices to achieve greater gender balance in content, and eradicate sexual harassment.

Where operational Botswana, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Lebanon, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Palestine, Rwanda, The Philippines, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

3. Building toward Stability 

Media around the world are in a battle for survival, after a protracted economic crisis, made worse by the fallout from COVID-19. Its roots can be found in the shift of audiences to digital platforms, where Google and Facebook now dominate the advertising market. The Stability programme helps media partners in emerging and transitional markets become more customer centric and audience-focused businesses, make better use of data and analytics to transform and drive strategic decision making particularly around investments in technology, and improve processes to manage costs and improve productivity. Regional and global industry experts provide advice and training, while a stability coach guides the executive team through the tracking and diagnostic process. 

Type of Activities: In-house (virtual) coaching, workshops and training, introduction and application of customised stability tracker tool.

Where operational: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

4. Operationalising Digital Strategy: Digital ABC 

This is a foundational programme to help media professionals – in any role – understand the impact of digital on the news media industry, and how to become drivers of change within their media. Digital ABC  is specifically designed for media operating in emerging and transitional contexts. It is the precursor to WAN-IFRA’s Media Management Accelerator programme. There are 3 modules in total. Each module is 8 lessons and adopts a hybrid approach of self-led/live webinar format with individual and group assignments. It was created exclusively for WAN-IFRA by leading digital transformation expert Lisa MacLeod and is administered by leading media executives from multiple regions. 

Type of Activities: self-led e-learning modules, live webinars and workshops (80/20 ratio self-led/live facilitation)

Where operational: Botswana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, The Philippines, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Languages offered: English, Russian (Arabic version to be introduced in Q4 2021)

We are currently engaged in 19 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:



Melanie Walker, Executive Director, Media Development & Women in News, WAN-IFRA

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 (now Tamedia) with responsibility for audience insights, editorial marketing research and product development, before joining the office of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.