CIMA's Mission Statement

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) is dedicated to improving U.S. efforts to promote independent media in developing countries around the world.

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About CIMA

We strive to build a foundation of knowledge for media development donors, implementers, and civil society actors on best practices and solutions for improving media systems. We do this because we believe media plays an indispensable role in the creation and development of sustainable democracies.

CIMA focuses on four cross-cutting issue areas in media development: effectiveness, sustainability, innovation, and funding. Together, they encompass efforts to improve the capacity and quality of the media sector.

What we do:

  • Conduct Research
  • Produce Written Analysis
  • Convene Experts
  • Develop Networks of Thought Leaders

What is Media Development?

The term media development refers to evolution and change in the fields of news media and communications. Such change relates to a range of institutions, practices, and behaviors including the rule of law, freedoms of expression and press, education systems for journalists, business environments, capacities of journalists and managers, as well as support for a diversity of views in society. This evolution can be stimulated by donor support, private investment, or local processes of change led by media owners, managers, journalists, media industry associations, and other collective efforts. Read more!

“Free Internet” and the Costs to Media Pluralism: The Hazards of Zero-Rating the News

In many countries, mobile operators have teamed up with social media platforms to offer free access to specific websites or internet services—including news websites. The most well-known of these offerings, Facebook’s Free Basics, has been explicitly pitched as a way to give citizens in developing countries greater access to news, but Facebook is not the only company touting these so-called “zero-rated” arrangements as a bridge across the digital divide. This report examines whether these arrangements are broadening access to diverse sources of news, as promised, and whether they might have broader consequences for the news market.

Defending Independent Media: A Comprehensive Analysis of Aid Flows

When donors provide assistance to the media sector, they frequently back projects that aim to strengthen the media’s contribution to good governance in some way or another. This kind of funding is consistent with recent declarations made by the international community on the importance of protecting independent media for the sake of democracy and development. Yet, in the bigger picture, donors still only commit a tiny fraction to this sector and appear to be responding slowly, if at all, to the unique challenges of press freedom in the digital age.

A New Wave of Censorship: Distributed Attacks on Expression and Press Freedom

In both authoritarian or democratic contexts, new forms of censorship online are carried out through distributed attacks on freedom of expression that are insidiously difficult to detect, and often just as effective, if not more, than the kinds of brute force techniques by state agents that came before. Their goal is not always to block users, content or themes, but to attack the democratic discourse, weaken trust in institutions like the media, other governments, the opposition, and civil society. These strategies increasingly polarize and diminish the networked public sphere, resulting in a more dangerous and confined space for media and civil society to operate.

Tracking Media Development Donor Support: An Update on 2016 Funding Levels

The information available on our website about donor funding levels and priorities is the result of an annual, voluntary survey that is sent to specific media development donors. All of the numbers are self-reported, and inclusion is based on donor willingness to participate. By profiling individual donors, we hope to capture some of the specific donor strategies that otherwise might not be captured in larger aggregate funding analyses.

Media Pluralism, Public Trust, and Democracy: New Evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean

As elsewhere, public trust in the media is on the decline in Latin America and the Caribbean. Is this trend attributable to social media? To a broader anti-establishment backlash? Or does it reflect growing concerns over pluralism in the media and the dominant control of the media by a few elites. Understanding the public perceptions on these issues is essential for building broad coalitions for reform.

Information Not Found: The "Right to Be Forgotten" as an Emerging Threat to Media Freedom in the Digital Age

As expansive as the amount of information available via the internet is, however, sometimes the most valuable information is what cannot be found. This is increasingly the case as some governments and private citizens are trying to limit what can easily be discovered online, which is also reflected by a growing body of so-called Right to Be Forgotten (RTBF) legislation. The Right to Be Forgotten generally refers to the de-indexing, or even total removal, of information on the internet, especially from search engines, so that it is not readily accessible to end users.1 Having first emerged within European jurisprudence, it is now being applied in other contexts with different legal frameworks. Yet, how can democracies function properly if citizens are ultimately denied the right to access information about, for example, public officials, government ledgers, or corporate filings?

In Repressive Countries, Citizens Go 'Dark' to Share Independent News

The blind spot, dubbed “dark social,” originates when visitors arrive from links shared by email, text, or private messaging applications—not to be confused with the more nefarious “dark web.” As analytics firms begin to shine a light onto the dark spots of referral data, they are learning that these invisible, peer-to-peer forms of sharing news are far more important than previously understood, kindling further consideration among publishers of how to harness messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram for distribution.

Pathways to Media Reform in Sub‑Saharan Africa: Reflections from a Regional Consultation

This report lays out a vision for how the continuing struggle for vibrant, independent, and plural media systems in the region might more effectively bolster efforts of democratic revitalization. The report draws on the input of 36 experts in media and governance from 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa who met in Durban, South Africa, in July 2017, and it deepens the insights and ideas that came from this group by documenting previously successful media reforms in sub-Saharan Africa.

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