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This week the Media Map Project team is in Brussels, where we organized a special event for the World Bank Institute’s Strengthening Responsible Business and Governance in Africa program.  We had some interesting discussions leading up to the event on the Bank’s online platform, where participants were quite passionate about the importance of the media in these areas.  And the importance of the role of the media in driving responsible business was a theme that ran throughout several of the events.  It still remains to be seen, though, whether the Bank will take media seriously, both as a development driver, and as a sector needing development attention in many countries.  Without functioning well as a business, the media cannot fulfill its potential to drive development.  There needs to be a lot more serious and concerted thought, at a strategic level and not as an afterthought, about what the Bank can do to improve the development of media, so that it is sustainable as a business and can perform the various roles of

  • watchdog of government, industry, civil society, and indeed the media itself
  • driver of development
  • space for the public to get vital information and communicate their needs and desires to decision-makers

The special session on the role of media came up with these recommendations to support media’s role in responsible business and governance, and to support the sustainability of media as a business.

  • Plan an event together with World Bank private sector and governance stakeholders, and the African Media Leaders’ Forum to bridge the gap between governance and business initiatives and media leaders’ concerns
  • Construct a multi-stakeholder platform for discussion and strategy on media, governance, and business, to include representatives from governments, private sector, the media, and civil society
  • Create opportunities for South-South and North-South learning on this topic
  • Plan regional forums in Africa to address these issues and contextualize them according to the specifics of each African region and country
  • Identify gaps in data that measures media freedom, strength, quality, reach, and independence (connect to organizations and initiatives already working on this, like PAMRO, Audiencescapes)
  • Create independent institutions to use consistent methods to measure the audience of each type of media and advertising expenditure for all countries in Africa. This data is the building block for independent media, without consistent, reliable data that tracks these issues over time, investors will not enter into the market.

We look forward to progress in this area!

Tara Susman-Peña is the Director of Research of The Media Map Project.

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