The proposals, submitted by proponents in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are in line with UNESCO's Strategic Response to Ebola, which underlines the need to strengthen communication systems in the above countries.
The funds will be used to enhance community radio infrastructure, issue reporting guidelines, train investigative journalists and mobilize women's participation and engagement in media.
Guy Berger, secretary to the IPDC Secretariat and director of the Freedom of Expression and Media Development Division at UNESCO, reminded the eight-country Bureau members chaired by Albana Shala (Netherlands) that media development interventions introduced during the Ebola outbreak must be sustained through further capacity building.
"If there is already a strong, pluralistic, free and independent media system in a country, then that counts as good preparedness to deal with disaster," he emphasized.
In reinforcing the point, Albana Shala, IPDC Chairperson, argued that "the three countries, which have experienced war and conflict, have not received much support from the IPDC in the past thirty years. They merit our attention now more than ever."
The Bureau members agreed that without information, one inadvertently faces the risk of Ebola contamination in the Mano River Region.
Recent efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone demonstrate commitment to achieving zero status of Ebola cases in 2015 and to strengthening public institutions to contain the disease and its impact. Attention to the media landscape and its development in all three countries is of paramount importance if the existing media infrastructure is to continue playing a fundamental and long-lasting public service role.
During the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 79 new Ebola cases including 1 in Liberia. Despite large-scale information and education campaigns, many communities are still resistant to the public health messages put out by authorities and international organizations, according to the non-governmental organization, Doctors Without Borders.
Ankomah made the announcement during the ongoing IPDC Bureau meeting at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
He explained: “We recognize the importance of the IPDC in building journalists’ capacity in elections reporting. We thus consider our contribution as part of our effort at building a partnership with the Programme”.
He added that the IPDC had enormous capacity to “influence politicians and policy-makers” on matters of freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists.
Which is why Ankomah called upon the IPDC to urge its African Member States, including Ghana, to enact a Freedom of Information law, as a way of acceding to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
Such a move, he explained, would open up government data and ensure journalists were protected from political pressures associated with reporting on sensitive issues.
Acknowledging this contribution, IPDC Chairperson, Albana Shala, thanked Ankomah, saying that the contribution by Allied News Ltd was facilitated by the Ghanaian Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, HE Johanna Odonkor Svanikier .
She said: “This contribution gives the much-needed visibility to the IPDC. Indeed, every contribution helps to sustain this unique inter-governmental programme”.
The IPDC Bureau meeting will conclude later today, after considering such other issues as the IPDC’s niche in the wider media development environment as well as responding to strategic gender issues in programme implementation.
Mr Ankomah shared with the Bureau meeting of the IPDC the role of his media organization in opinion research and their reportage had contributed to the success of Ghana’s elections.
Colombia has evolved a system over 15 years to protect journalists, and this has helped to strongly reduce the numbers of journalists killed in that country, said Carlos Cortés. He presented a wiki that details the way the system works, highlighting the importance of a centrally-driven initiative and integration of protection with legal actions against those who attack journalists.
France’s TV5 Monde has a system in place for rapid response to danger, said Yves Bigot, Director-General of the station. The broadcaster’s protection systems liaise closely with state authorities, but not at the expense of independence of journalists, he noted. Tracking technology enables live monitoring of the safety of international correspondents in the field, who also need to report to editors at least every 12 hours.
He warned that information about local movement could sometimes be compromised by betrayals from associated staff, exposing journalists to kidnapping and ransom demands.
States have a role to play in regulating that media companies should provide protection for journalists, said Monir Zaarour of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). He further stated that after the Charlie Hebdo killings, safety issues had entered into the minds of every journalist and their family worldwide.
Instead of relying on costly international trainers with translators to empower journalists in self-protection, IFJ has developed a programme in Africa and the Arab States to capacitate local trainers to deliver the knowledge and skill.
The stress of working as a journalist needs to be recognised and responded to, said Kenyan psychologist Dinah Kituyi. Her experience assessed journalists in East Africa showed high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as problems of denial and emotional numbing.
Delegates from Denmark, Peru, Sweden, Brazil, Bangladesh, Algeria and Niger took the floor in response to the speakers.
The concept note for this panel states: “in a global world, to stop journalists being killed anywhere, it is necessary to stop the attacks everywhere. There should be no space for “precedents” and copycat killings; instead journalists need to be protected, and perpetrators of attacks must be brought to justice. Sharing experiences and building practical responses will give concrete effect to the basic norm that violence against journalism cannot be permitted.”
The IPDC meeting also served to launch the new UNESCO publication “Building Digital Safety for Journalists”.
He noted that IPDC was a vehicle to share international experiences in the safety of journalists, highlighting lessons that “are no longer distant to Western Europe – such as protection systems for journalists, training of trainers to optimize capacity-building efforts, and support for journalists suffering from trauma.”
Mr Engida added: “the safety of journalists is truly a global effort, and the IPDC’s support for activities in one part of the world can increasingly be of help elsewhere.”
In echoing Engida’s remarks, IPDC Chairperson, Albana Shala, further highlighted IPDC’s role in advocating for journalists' safety online and offline, adding that ‘killings of journalists, if unpunished, tend to make checks on power impossible’.
These IPDC concerns about journalistic safety and other aspects of media development were subsequently taken up in an analytical summary of projects supported by the IPDC over the 2013-2014 period.
In presenting the report, Fackson Banda, a programme specialist responsible for an IPDC initiative called Knowledge-Driven Media Development, pointed out that a significant number of projects supported by IPDC were relevant to the issues.
The IPDC Bureau is currently meeting to examine almost 100 project proposals submitted from all over the world as part of its drive to improve the media condition in terms of freedom of expression, capacity development for journalists and technological innovation.
How Kenya deals with problems of stress on journalists is the subject of discussion by Dinah van Altena Kituyi, an expert speaker in the debate “After Charlie: strengthening the safety of journalists”, scheduled at UNESCO for Friday 27 March.
The event is part of a meeting of the Bureau of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication. The IPDC is the cradle of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
Ms Kituyi will speak about the nightmares, anger and emotional numbing experienced by Kenyan journalists who have been subjected to threats and worse.
She has extensive experience in counselling media people, including journalists in exile, and is a contributor to the publication “Images that stay forever” about their stress in relation to covering massacres in 2012 and 2013.
The effects of stress are damaged relationships at home, substance abuse and ongoing unhappiness. The recommendations Ms Kituyi will speak about include complementing psychological support with awareness raising and research, and including stress as part of safety training in schools of journalism.
Another speaker sharing international experience at the meeting is Mr Carlos Cortés, an expert who is researching the development of police protection of journalists in Colombia. He will describe the evolution of different structures that evaluate and respond to journalists under threat.
The Colombian system is widely recognised as a pioneering step whereby a state can ensure that journalists can withstand intimidation and be shielded from attack.
Mr Monir Zaarour, of the International Federation of Journalists, will speak at the meeting on a model of training trainers as a way to maximise skills-sharing amongst journalists in regard to self-protection. This has been implemented especially in the Arab region.
The role of media institutions in terms of supporting the safety of journalists will be covered by Mr Yves Bigot, Director-General of TV5Monde.
Delegations of Member States as well as the media have been invited to the meeting, and a video of the proceedings will be put online in order to spread the information further.
An amount of approximately $1m will be shared out amongst the projects that are selected, with the money coming this year from extra-budgetary contributions made by Andorra, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
The 8-member Bureau of the IPDC will make the decisions at its 59th meeting on 26 and 27 March, at UNESCO Headquarters. This programme was started in 1980, and over the years it has disbursed over $100m to media development projects in developing countries.
During the meeting, the Bureau will also discuss an analytical report on projects that were supported over the past year, as well as how to promote gender mainstreaming in IPDC-funded projects.
Algeria, Bangladesh, Denmark, Ghana, the Netherlands, Niger, Peru and Poland make up the members of the 2015-16 Bureau, as elected by the 39-Member State IPDC Council in November 2014.
The meeting will also discuss IPDC’s four special initiatives – covering the safety of journalists, media development indicators, excellence in journalism education, and knowledge-driven media development.
The agenda of the meeting includes a debate on Friday 27th titled "After Charlie: Strengthening the safety of journalists".
Speakers with expertise about protection of journalists’ safety in Colombia, Kenya, France and the Arab region will share their experiences and engage with Member States.
Other items on the agenda for the Bureau include examining the niche and priorities of IPDC, as well as setting communication and fundraising targets to increase the impact of the Programme.
During the week-long trip, Ms. Munkhburen was accompanied by the CRAMO’s Vice President Mr. Chuluunsuren Enkhbayar and by Ms. Chadraabal Otgontugs, manager of “Voice of Hotgoid” located in the rural Tsagaan-Uul County of the Khuvsgul province. On 6-13 February, the Mongolian delegation visited the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB), and travelled to Vijaya FM in Parasi, Lumbini FM, and Gandaki FM in Pokhara. While in Kathmandu, they met with the Regional Coordinator of AMARC Asia-Pacific Mr. Suman Basnet, and joined fellow broadcasters in celebrating the 2015 World Radio Day.
CRAMO’s experience-sharing mission to Nepal was made possible by the IPDC Project “Supporting the Development of a Sustainable Community Radio Movement in Mongolia.” Under this project, consultations were organized with community radio representatives from ten counties on January 2015 to discuss their challenges and recommendations for community media's sustainable development. Based on the consultations, CRAMO is developing an Engagement and Sustainability Plan for community media development in Mongolia. Furthermore, this project has supported awareness-raising activities to sensitize over 100 Mongolian community leaders, local and national decision-makers about the role of community media.
Among the project’s direct beneficiaries, Mr. Ulziisaikhan, radio manager of “Taigyn ayalguu” community radio in the Tsagaannur County of the Khuvsgul province, said he was happy that the training built his capacity to fund-raise with local and development funds. For other radio managers, the exchange was also the occasion to share how tackling daily practical challenges such as heating radio station premises during the extreme harsh Mongolian winters, as highlighted by the radio manager of “Ulaahkhusyn dolgiin” in the Ulaankhus County of the Bayan-Ulgii province. At the same time, the Chair of the Board of the “Tavan tesiin dolgion” community radio in the Tes County of the Uvs province took the opportunity to discuss with peers from other community media the lack of ICT and Internet literacy among radio volunteers.
UNESCO Beijing Office’s Adviser for Communication and Information Andrea Cairola said that the experience-sharing trip was conceived as an ideal “relay” between one of the countries in the Asia-Pacific where community radio was introduced sustainably and successfully, also helped by IPDC’s support to the first Nepali community media Radio Sagarmatha in 1995 (for more details see the 2008 publication Pioneering Community Radio – Impacts of IPDC Assistance in Nepal.
Mongolia introduced community radio only in recent years, with UNESCO supporting the establishment of ten community radio stations in remote soums/counties targeting ethnic and disadvantaged minorities (in Tolbo, Bayannuur, Buyant and Ulaankhussoums of Bayan-Ulgii province; Tsagaannuur, Ulaan-Uul and Tsagaan-Uul of Huvsgul province; Altai of Khovd; and Zuungobi and Tessoums of Uvsaimag province - for more details see this web-story and reportage). UNESCO also provided capacity building for the establishment of CRAMO, and assistance to the development of community media friendly legislation in line with the recommendations of an assessment based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators.
Learning about these activities, the IPDC Chair Albana Shala said that: “such South-South cooperation and with a focus on long-term sustainability are examples of what the Programme would like to foster.”
The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development.
The multistakeholder event was convened to assess a draft UNESCO study on Internet issues of access, freedom of expression, privacy and ethical dimensions of the Information Society.
Ms Shala highlighted that the forthcoming IPDC Bureau meeting on 27 March will discuss the protection of journalists at three levels: state officials, newsroom policies, and individual capacities, and give attention to digital protection as well as physical protection.
“The right to free expression applies across borders and across media platforms. In other words, to the Internet as much as to newspapers, magazines, radio and television. And without safety, the right to free expression cannot be properly exercised,” she said.
Ms Shala added: “In a global world, to stop journalists being killed anywhere, it is necessary to stop the attacks everywhere. There should be no space for ‘precedents’ and copycat killings.
“Journalists in all countries and on all media platforms, need to be protected, and perpetrators of attacks must be brought to justice everywhere.”
The IPDC Chair reminded the conference that IPDC was the cradle of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which served as an internationally agreed framework for multi-stakeholder co-operation in securing safe freedom of expression and justice for those who are attacked for their use of free expression.
She pointed out that the Director-General’s report to the IPDC Intergovernmental Council on judicial follow-up by States regarding the killings of journalists covered the cases of online and social media producers as well as traditional media.
The Programme had also given support to safety training projects that include the digital dimension, such as a Massive Open Online Course on free expression and the law, attracting more than 1000 judicial actors in Mexico.
In addition, IPDC had made a contribution to the UNESCO consultative Internet study by hosting a discussion on online privacy and freedom of expression with five experts at the Council meeting in 2014. “As an integral part of this Organization, IPDC will be there to make its unique contribution to any follow up of the study that is decided by the UNESCO Member States,” said Ms Shala.
Concepts contained in the MDIs such as public service broadcasting “are relevant to fulfill the information needs of many local communities and vulnerable groups” said Dr. Zhongda Yuan from the Beijing Normal University, one of the workshop’s facilitators. Dr. Yuan has also translated into Chinese the IPDC-endorsed publication Media Development Indicators: A framework for assessing media development in close consultation with the UNESCO Beijing Office.
This workshop was organized within the framework of the IPDC project “Improving the Media Landscape in the Ethnic Minority Area of Yunnan Province”. This project also involved an MDI-based research activity in four pilot areas of the Yunnan province which comprises 26 ethnic groups and more than 25 local broadcast outlets, in additional to a provincial broadcaster, catering to 47 million inhabitants. The research was conducted in the form a surveys among both media professionals and their audiences.
The survey polled a sample of 115 media professionals, 75% of which were from minorities. The results highlighted the need to increase locally-produced content which is scarce due to lack of adequate staffing and resources in local media outlets. They also suggested the need to introduce media self-regulation and to enhance production skills. Concerning safety of media workers, about five per cent of the Survey’s respondents said that they had been harassed or threatened because of their profession, while one reporter stated having been subject to a physical attack, and another having been forced to reveal a source.
The findings of the survey portrayed a working environment in which small media outlets have to fulfill obligations towards local authorities. They also revealed a trend of mounting commercial pressure, with an increased part of the running budget of local media outlets needing to be generated by advertisement, leaving them struggling for economic sustainability in a context of competition with bigger media players.
From the survey involving a sample of the media audience it emerged that the majority of viewers of local television outlets prefer watching “TV news and information programs” (69% of respondents), followed by “arts programs” (11%). These results contrast with audiences’ preferences for provincial and national outlets, where entertainment programmes are most commonly sought. A clear majority of the audiences of local television outlets surveyed would like to see more locally-produced content broadcast (83% of respondents), reflecting the voices of ethnic minorities (65%), poor people (28%) and women (24%).
Such request for locally-produced content can be explained by the fact that “people want information relevant to them and their livelihoods” explained Mr. Haining Wu, Secretary-General of the CSFFTAP. The survey’s conclusions have been shared with relevant national authorities and CSFFTAP is planning to organize a “high-level” roundtable discussion later this year. CSFFTAP’s Secretary-General hopes that these activities will contribute to addressing current challenges of multilingual and local media outlets.
As a follow up to the survey’s recommendations, CSFFTAP has organized a first training workshop in Kunming, focusing on TV Program Production in Ethnic Minority Languages, and benefiting 30 media professionals selected from amongst nine local media outlets. Twelve ethnic minorities (Bai, Dai, Hani, Hui, Jingbo, Lisu, Miao, Naxi, Yi, Wa, Zang, and Zhuang) were represented and 13 of the participants were women.
Introducing the MDI methodology at the workshop, Andrea Cairola, Adviser for Communication and Information at the UNESCO Beijing Office, mentioned the importance of media pluralism and multilingualism to reflect the diversities of society. He also quoted UNESCO’s Director-General Ms. Irina Bokova stressing that: “Every language is equal and linked. Each is a unique force for understanding, writing and expressing reality…It is through language that we make sense of the world and that we can transform it for the better.”
One media professional from an ethnic minority who attended the workshop in Kunming said that “this kind of training and the MDI framework are really useful and can be applied in our daily work.” Other participants expressed the wish that such trainings and assessments contribute to advocating for policies supporting the flourishing of local media.
The CSFFTAP had applied to IPDC for support with a project proposal that was approved by the IPDC Bureau at its 57th meeting in March 2013. IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development.
The UNESCO Media Development Indicators framework is applied in countries worldwide to carry out in-depth assessments of their media environment. These assessments result in a series of recommendations aimed at helping policy makers and media development actors to address gaps on the way to a free, independent and professional media environment – the core objectives of the Support to Media in Jordan project.
“The MDI framework is agreed by UNESCO’s Member States and offers a unique research tool to measure what is needed to improve media freedom, independence and professionalism” stated Johan Romare, UNESCO Project Manager for the Support to Media in Jordan project.
Following Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine, Jordan will be the fourth Arab country in which a comprehensive MDI assessment will be completed. The MDI study for Jordan is implemented in partnership with International Media Support (IMS), an international media development organization that has been involved in several MDI assessments worldwide. Biljana Tatomir, Deputy Director of IMS, emphasized that "MDI-based assessments provide a basis for an informed debate between all stakeholders involved in media reform efforts by pointing out achievements as well as areas in need of further improvement. I believe the forthcoming assessment stands a good chance to serve its purpose in Jordan due to expressed interest and commitment by the government, civil society and media stakeholders."
The research team for Jordan includes two international researches and four national researchers with extensive experience in media development and research. The assessment is expected to be published in July. The recommendations from the report will feed into the review process of the Action Plan of the national media strategy, a main activity of the “Support to Media in Jordan” project. Currently, an advisory board for the study is being set up.
The “Support to Media in Jordan” project is part of a broader EU initiative to support civil society and media in Jordan and is implemented by the UNESCO Amman office in close collaboration with the main state and non-state media institutions in Jordan.
A special guest at the “Journalism after Charlie” event on 14 January at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Ms Shala underlined to the more than 400 participants why IPDC supported journalists’ safety.
She noted that while there are different reasons why journalists become targets of killers, there was also “something in common between the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, investigative journalists and political correspondents shot dead in Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan and Syria”.
“In all cases, these journalists and others have been killed because of the public role they play. They have been killed by people who believe it is legitimate to stop words and images with violence. In all cases, the effect is the same. The murdered journalists cannot bear witness, and society no longer has the choice of knowing what they would have said.”
The Chair’s remarks mirrored those of speakers such as UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, the cartoonist Plantu, as well as journalists from several countries and religious leaders.
The Chair added that she herself worked on a daily basis with journalists in conflict regions and countries in transition. “These are the ones who dare denounce corruption, crime, human rights abuses. They are the ones who are threatened, arrested and even killed.”
She pointed out that IPDC monitors all these cases and draws attention to the fact that killings of journalists are not just against individuals, but also an assault on everyone’s right to free expression, and on society’s right to know.
“The IPDC’s monitoring shows that there is a fundamental issue that Governments should deal with - the issue of impunity. Dealing with impunity calls for legal and institutional reform. It calls for will and courage on the part of Member States to protect journalists and bring to justice the drug barons, the corrupted politicians, the fundamentalists.”
She concluded: “The recent events underline the importance of what we do, and they encourage us to redouble our efforts. I pledge that IPDC will continue to strive for a world in which everyone is safe to speak and where justice is made.”
Other special guests included Christophe Deloire of Reporters sans frontières, Jesper Hojberg of International Media Support, and Dominique Pradalié of the Syndicat national des journalists (SNJ). The event was supported financially by the delegations of Austria, France and Sweden, and was done in partnership with broadcast station France Culture.