Media is development – since in modern societies anything that is not communicated does not “exist”. Whether building a democracy or growing a sustainable economy, timely and effective media reporting fosters governance, accountability, interaction, participation, the mobilisation human resources and a sense of common purpose and identity. It is from this perspective that we say, that rather than a complement to development, media is development itself.
However, particularly in developing countries, the media sector is often not fully equipped to play such a crucial role in the process of development. For this reason, IPS has long been providing training to individual journalists and communicators, as well as engaging in a more holistic process, which we call “media development”. IPS contributes to the discourse on the role of mass media, its contents and the interaction between media and development, always from its unique perspective as a Southern-oriented practitioner.
IPS is certainly not new to the media development business. In the 1970s and 1980s IPS contributed to the debates in UNESCO around the McBride Commission and the New World Information and Communication Order, which although prescient were eventually doomed by the opposition of the United States. More concretely and successfully, IPS helped to professionalize, equip and train a number of national news agencies in emergent democracies, notably in Africa and Latin America.
In recent years IPS has developed ground-breaking media development initiatives, which together with our training programmes, have created the critical mass of experience, credibility and vision to plan to launch in 2008, the IPS Centre for Training and Capacity Building. It will operate within the IPS group as a centre of excellence with a profile and approach that clearly distinguishes it from the “Western” training foundations and organisations that currently dominate the market.
Through its work in Afghanistan IPS has consolidated its track-record in conflict / post-conflict situations, working on the ground since 2005 with four local Afghan media partners to train local print and radio journalists and disseminate their work nationally and internationally. Initially funded through an EU grant, the project culminated in the 2007 First International and Afghan Media and Civil Society Forum, co-organised by IPS and the The Killid Media Group. IPS and its local partners continue to work together to ensure that Afghan voices are heard internationally, and Afghan media have access to Southern perspectives through IPS news.
IPS is working together with CIVICUS and Oxfam-Novib to strengthen the relationship between media and civil society, with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of coverage that civil society issues receive in the mainstream. In May 2007, at the CIVICUS World Assembly, representatives of ten leading players, (media – BBC, Al Jazeera, NDTV India, Radio Netherlands, Telesur, Deutsche Welle, and civil society – World Vision, Earth Charter, GCAP and Gender at Work) joined the organisers in a High-Level Media – Civil Society Dialogue. A second event is planned in the United States in 2008.
IPS has co-hosted media development events at every World Social Forum since 2005, culminating in the series of Information and Communcation Fora that have oriented participating media and examined the role of communication.
In 2006 IPS Asia Pacific teamed up with ActionAid on the Asia Media Forum, with the aim of providing a space for journalists to share insights on issues related to the media and their profession, as well as stories, information and opinions on democracy, development and human rights in Asia. One IPS output of this collaboration is the ‘Asia Media Report: A Crisis Within‘, a report on media trends. Be it in Pakistan or China, Indonesia, Thailand or India, many among the region’s dominant media have metamorphosed into advertisement delivery vehicles for ever-hungry corporate masters. In other words, media – which do not look critically enough into themselves – are facing a crisis from within.