The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,400 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.
NED was created in 1983 by the US congress with the goal of supporting democracy activists worldwide. NED is purely a grant making organization and does not implement any of its own projects. Funding for NED projects comes almost entirely through an annual appropriation of the US congress, however, NED’s independent board of directors makes all funding decisions. NED has funded media development projects since its inception as free and independent media are a cornerstone of functioning democracies.
In addition to directly funding non-governmental groups abroad, the NED also funds projects by its four associated core institutes: the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the Solidarity Center. These organizations were created along with NED, and have the same mission of promoting democracy around the world. While each receives significant funding from NED, as independent organizations they also receive funds from other donors.
In the CIMA survey, each donor was asked to rate from high to low in terms of priority the types of media interventions it supports.
NED’s grant making is almost entirely demand-driven, and takes place in an open-ended quarterly application and funding cycle. This means that grantee organizations help set the agenda for the type of projects that are funded. An analysis of the types of projects funded over the past five years, however, sheds light on overall funding trends.
NED’s overall support to democratic organizations and institutions is aimed at creating an enabling environment that is supportive of independent, democratically governed media, and about 15% of its support in fiscal year 2016 went specifically to media projects. For example, NED’s media work helps local organizations shape the broader political and legal framework necessary for independent media, with roughly 18% of media development funds going to projects focused on the enabling legal environment. Other significant categories of funding include media literacy, support for professional associations, and efforts to develop economic sustainability in the media sector. NED is also somewhat unusual in that a significant amount of its media development funding goes to directly supporting media outlets. In 2016, 40% of media development funds went to direct media assistance. Journalist training accounted for 19% of media development support.
In fiscal year 2016, NED spending on media development projects was $21.5 million. This represented roughly 15% of total grants awarded. Over the past five years the relative percentage of the NED budget allotted to media development has remained between 13% and 15%.
Media development funding is distributed relatively equally across the five NED regions: Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).
Fiscal Year 2016 Media Development Support by Region
Latin American and the Caribbean: 17%
The Middle East and North Africa: 16%
The remaining two percent of media development funding was spent on Global projects, which include efforts that take place in more than one region.
Since 2014, the NED has supported Fundación Las Dos Orillas to help amplify the voices and highlight the experiences of victims of the war between Colombia’s government and the guerrillas known as the FARC–the longest armed conflict in Latin America, which has claimed millions of victims and displaced millions more. Las Dos Orillas, which was founded by a group of journalists, has served as a key facilitator for groups that historically have been excluded from the negotiating table, such as women, youth, Afro-descendant, indigenous, and LGBTQ populations. By raising the prominence of conflict victims and the stories of the crimes they suffered at the hands of guerrilla groups and government troops, Las Dos Orillas is helping to ease the way for greater reconciliation in Colombian society and laying the foundation for a more durable peace following the peace accords reached in Havana in 2016.
Since 2009, NED has been supporting the work of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in the areas of media monitoring, press freedom advocacy, and recognizing journalistic excellence in the Philippines. With its timely monitoring of articles, reports, online resources, and social networking, CMFR plays a significant role in contributing to public discourse and strengthening the media sector’s role as a pillar of democracy. CMFR is able to use current events as ‘teaching moments,’ putting a spotlight on how the latest government policies, media lapses in judgment, or even celebrity scandal has been covered by the press. CMFR’s media monitoring has been cited and its staff’s expertise has been sought on a wide range of issues by various media outlets and even government institutions. In the area of defending press freedom, CMFR has been relentless in highlighting the recurring media killings in the Philippines and what it believes has been insufficient action by officials to halt them. Because of its respected reputation, each report and statement receives considerable press coverage, which in turn has continued to keep attention on this issue and the demand for action against impunity alive.
Nonprofit news outlet Studio Monitor has received National Endowment for Democracy support for several years to strengthen freedom of speech and editorial independence of the Georgian media. To achieve these objectives, Studio Monitor produced a series of investigative documentaries on a range of topics seldom covered by the Georgian media. The organization’s reporting provided a balanced and objective voice in Georgia’s highly-polarized media sector. Studio Monitor journalists recently produced a documentary exposing a plot in which several prosecutors and judges collaborated on 11 cases to ensure a victory for the prosecution each time. The screening of this documentary prompted hundreds of Georgian citizens to demand that the government under the Georgian Dream coalition, which came to power in 2012, reject the methods employed by the government with regards to the judiciary. Thus, Studio Monitor’s objective and hard-hitting investigations have demonstrably contributed to the advancement of democracy within the country.