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!

Supporting Media at a Time of Crisis: Donors Explore New Strategies

This report, the last in a series that has explored entry points for strengthening international cooperation in the media sector, sheds some light on these questions. Based on 27 interviews with representatives of both private and official donor agencies, it examines the major obstacles and stumbling blocks that will have to be avoided if global support to the media sector is increased. The institutional impediments to effective aid, the report finds, are frequently related to limited human capacity and expertise in media at the donor organizations and a misalignment of support and needs. The cross-donor collaborations currently being considered can help to address these shortcomings, though not without risks.

Strengthening the United Nations’ Role in Media Development

The United Nations made a promise in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human to promote free and independent media around the world. Citizens cannot “seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any medium, regardless of frontiers” without access to a vibrant media sphere, including a free and open internet. But how does the UN interpret and act upon this obligation? How is that changing? And how can the UN help create a more effective response to the profound challenges confronting independent media?

China's New Media Dilemma: The Profit in Online Dissent

Studies on the development of Chinese media often diverge greatly in answering the question of which force will prevail: the government, with its unparalleled capacity to curb free expression, or liberal voices, aided by new media. In CIMA's latest report, author Louisa Chiang makes the case that the outcome may be contingent on technological and commercial factors that are now in flux.

Big Data, Not Big Brother: New Data Protection Laws and the Implications for Independent Media Around the World

For years, the road to news media financial sustainability was said to be paved with data—digital news outlets were counseled to collect as many details about their readers as possible in order to deliver more relevant content as well as to support more lucrative, targeted advertising. Yet, more recently, citizens and policymakers alike have grown concerned about the pervasive tracking of web users. This has led to a new wave of data protection laws and regulations worldwide that seek to empower people and curtail the excessive collection of personal data.

How Social Media Taxes Can Burden News Outlets: The Case of Uganda

In July 2018, the government of Uganda implemented a tax on individual users of social media platforms. In the first three months following the introduction of the tax in the country, internet penetration dropped from 47 percent to 35 percent. Given that a significant amount of news circulation now happens via social media and messaging apps, how might this new tax impact the news media ecosystem? The negative effects on news media are less direct and arguably more pernicious than might be expected.

Media Development and the Open Government Partnership: Can Improved Policy Dialogue Spur Media Reforms?

The global effort to promote open and transparent government creates new opportunities to put media development on the political agenda of countries around the world. This report looks in particular at the structures of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which in its 2016 Paris Declaration characterized the media as a “crucial force for transparency and accountability.” In an era of democratic backsliding and declining public trust in institutions of all kinds, the need for pluralistic, independent, and high-quality news media has never been more important.

Confronting the Crisis in Independent Media: A Role for International Assistance

With independent media around the world in crisis, what is the role of international donors and private foundations? And how can these international actors provide effective support when the driving forces behind independent media’s decline—simultaneously technological, financial, social, political, and institutional—are so complex and difficult to disentangle?

“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.

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