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December 20th, 2016

By Farhana Haque Rahman, Director General, Inter Press Service

Farhana Haque Rahman

Farhana Haque Rahman

DHAKA, Dec 20 2016 (IPS) – 2016 has been a dramatic year for the world, and for the media. Political dysfunction appears to be on the rise, putting social media under increasing critical scrutiny even as prestigious global commercial news brands capable of acting as the fourth estate are downsizing.

Fiscal austerity in advanced economies is catalysing populist protests and a nascent form of nationalism that risks turning the international arena into a less generous space.

And yet times are even harder in conflict-riven lands such as South Sudan, drought-suffering regions in Madagascar and, for too long now, cities such as Aleppo. While robust and credible news coverage is under threat, never has it been more needed.

I would like, however, to announce some good news. A year ago, Inter Press Service was in troubled waters. Today, thanks to many stakeholders, and the fine work of the IPS team, that is less the case. I can confidently assert that we are alive and kicking. Amid tense and rapidly-changing global times – worryingly dubbed the “post-truth” era – it is a sign of hope that genuine interest in real-world problems remains vibrant, and a tribute to our contribution to keeping valuable information flowing.

While some talk of globalization going into reverse and a “new normal” of subdued prospects, the fact is – as recognized by the universal nature of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – that the world is increasingly interconnected irrespective of how many container ships sail the seas.

The challenge of climate change is a concrete example of that interconnection. Air pollution turns out to be worse in areas that are not where it is generated. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics are adept travellers, making local practises a global concern.

Through it all, development work is being done, and tracking its success – and even its setbacks when they offer learning moments – is our critical mission. That job may be getting harder, and new challenges to media freedom may arise, but IPS will be here to do it.

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