The Politics of #MediaDev

Media is a political issue. Now more than ever, the media development community needs to engage politically to effect change in the enabling environment for free and independent media. And yet, the enabling environment for media is an often undervalued facet of media development. In the coming months, we will focus on this topic in writing and in practice and this page will serve as a hub of relevant information on the topic. It features our recent CIMA paper on the topic, a video of our recent public event, relevant blog posts from CIMA staff and guest contributors, and interviews with leading thinkers in the media development field.

Politics Matter for #Mediadev


The Politics of Media Development

In the field of media development, the public sector is often viewed as a barrier to the development of independent and sustainable media. Although governments do frequently pervert and capture media sectors in countries around the globe, the enabling conditions under which media can achieve and maintain independence are nevertheless reliant on institutions of government. Therefore the media development community must rethink its approaches to public sector engagement in efforts to improve the environment for media systems in emerging and fragile democracies.

Politics Matter for #MediaDev

Blog Series


Media act as conduits for politically consequential ideas; as such, their political significance is highly relevant. Advances in mass media—first in print, then over broadcast, and most recently on the Internet—have only magnified their reach, influence, and importance. It is therefore no wonder that political elites seek to harness and exert control over media. As the Center for International Media Assistance’s (CIMA’s) Paul Rothman notes in a new report, “control over the [media] sector holds immense value for elites who aim to further their own political or economic interests.”

Politics and Rethinking Media Development

Too little funding, a lack of coordination among media development actors, and a dearth of data continue to undermine the effectiveness of media development efforts worldwide. From a strategic standpoint, however, the failure of the media development community to fully understand the inherently political nature of media systems, and any external effort to stimulate them, has been a key problem. Other areas of development have begun tackling the politics of their work, and now it is time for the media development community to follow suit.

To Give Democracy a Fighting Chance, Get Serious about the Media Environment

We’ve known for a long time that independent news media is a crucial ingredient in the mix of policies, institutions and political behaviors that make democracy work. And we’ve seen concrete examples of countries where the emergence of a strong, independent press has helped consolidate democratic institutions.

Uruguay's Media Reform Success Story

In a country run by a military regime up until the mid-1980s, how was the media environment transformed in such a profound way, whereas many of its neighbors have languished in the yellows and purples of the Freedom House 2014 Press Freedom Map? Although the laws themselves warrant discussion as models for the region, too little attention is paid to the way in which these laws came to fruition.

Europe's Failed Intervention on Hungarian Media Laws

Since 2010 Hungary–a tiny, EU-member, CEE country–became the symbol for modern, illiberal censorship and dictatorship, oppressing media freedom, introducing soft-censorship and turning public service media to state propaganda. Hungary by today serves as case study on theories of modern dictatorship. The Hungarian case highlights the need–even within the EU–for better understanding of politics for sustainable media development.

Stifling the Public Sphere

Building political support for media is an essential piece of the development puzzle because, as a new report by the International Forum for Democratic Studies puts it, “Independent media are essential for determining the success or failure of government programs and assessing actual conditions in the country”–a view that CIMA has championed over the years. The report, “Stifling the Public Sphere,” focuses on media and civil society in Russia, Egypt, and Vietnam.