International Media Development

Historical Perspectives and New Frontiers

by Nicholas Benequista (Volume editor) Susan Abbott (Volume editor) Paul Rothman (Volume editor) Winston Mano (Volume editor)
©2019 Textbook XVI, 278 Pages


This collection is the first of its kind on the topic of media development. It brings together luminary thinkers in the field—both researchers and practitioners—to reflect on how advocacy groups, researchers, the international community and others can work to ensure that media can continue to serve as a force of democracy and development. But that mission faces considerable challenges. Media development paradigms are still too frequently associated with Western prejudices, or out of touch with the digital age. As we move past Western blueprints and into an uncertain digital future, what does media development mean? If we are to act meaningfully to shape the future of our increasingly mediated societies, we must answer this question.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: Introduction (Nicholas Benequista / Susan Abbott / Paul Rothman / Winston Mano)
  • Part One: Theories and Histories
  • Chapter Two: Global Media: New Issues, Old Story (Marc Raboy)
  • Chapter Three: Media Development and the Market for Loyalties (Monroe E. Price)
  • Chapter Four: Redefining Media Development: A Demand-Driven Approach (Mark M. Nelson)
  • Chapter Five: Evaluating Success: What Should We Be Measuring? (Susan Abbott)
  • Chapter Six: A Sketch of Media Development: From Meeting Point to Field? (Silvio Waisbord)
  • Part Two: Democratic and Social Challenges
  • Chapter Seven: Media Development and the Political Marketplace (Nicole Stremlau)
  • Chapter Eight: Fake News and Disinformation: Promoting Facts with Press Freedoms (Douglas Griffin)
  • Chapter Nine: Gender, Research, and Media Development: A Feminist Perspective on Media Structures (Carolyn M. Byerly)
  • Chapter Ten: Media Capture: Media Ownership, Oligarchs, and the Challenge of Developing Independent Media (Marius Dragomir)
  • Chapter Eleven: The New Normal: Transnational Authoritarian Threats to Independent Media (Shanthi Kalathil)
  • Part Three: Regional Perspectives
  • Chapter Twelve: Refocusing Media Development in Africa (Winston Mano)
  • Chapter Thirteen: The Impact of Foreign Aid on the Development of Media and Communication in Latin America (María Soledad Segura)
  • Chapter Fourteen: India’s Media Development Seesaw: Advancement and Vulnerability in the World’s Largest Democracy (Savyasaachi Jain)
  • Chapter Fifteen: The State of Media Development in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Republics (Gillian McCormack)
  • Part Four: Models, Strategies, and Practices
  • Chapter Sixteen: How the Fault-lines in Media Development Assistance Make Us Ill-Prepared for the Future: A Densely Potted Historical Analysis (James Deane)
  • Chapter Seventeen: Media Literacy in the Context of Media Development: Framework, Interventions, and Assessment (Tatjana Ljubic)
  • Chapter Eighteen: Local News: A Shift to Hyperlocal? (Michelle Betz)
  • Chapter Nineteen: Solutions Journalism and a Normative Model for Media Development (Tom Jacobson)
  • Chapter Twenty: The Enduring Place of Investigative Journalism in Media Development (Drew Sullivan)
  • Chapter Twenty-One: Public Service Broadcasting and Media Development (Minna Aslama Horowitz / Davor Marko)
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Media Development and Media Reform: Time for Change (Des Freedman / Jonathan A. Obar)
  • Part Five: Digital Media and Convergence
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: Digital Convergence and Its Implications for Media Development (Daniel O’Maley)
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: The Revenue Paradox of Digital News Media (Michelle J. Foster)
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: Media Development in the Digital Age (Tara Susman-Peña)
  • Chapter Twenty-Six: How Scholarship on Media Development Can Make a Difference (Guy Berger)
  • About the Contributors
  • Series index

| ix →


Figure 4.1. Media development requires increases in both skills and enabling conditions.

Figure 4.2. Hypothetical country examples of degree of media development.

Figure 4.3. Examples of demand-side media development activities.

Figure 4.4. Key SDG targets for civil society and media.

Figure 15.1. Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press Index for Eastern European countries, 2001 and 2017.

Figure 15.2. IREX’s Media Sustainability Index, a comparison of 2001 and 2017.

| xi →


Table 9.1. Women’s representation in governance and top management of news companies in selected African nations

Table 9.2. Women’s representation at policy level in large global media conglomerates

Table 24.1. Four tiers of business maturity among digital news outlets in Latin America

Table 25.1. Some illustrative examples of changes to media development in the digital age

| xiii →


This volume is the result of a tremendous collective effort. The editors of this book are most grateful to the many contributing authors—for their ideas, hard work, patience, and commitment to building knowledge in our field.

Ideas about media development are put to the test by the practitioners who work on the frontlines of media development every day. In this regard, we are thankful for the encouragement and support of Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), which created several opportunities to gather scholars and practitioners around the table. The editors of this book are especially grateful to Mark Nelson, Senior Director at CIMA, for his patience, mentorship, and overall guidance in making this book a possibility. In addition, Guy Berger and his team at UNESCO offered early support and insights to the book and our interest in forming a knowledge community of scholars and practitioners on the topic of media development. The views and opinions of Tara Susman-Peña from IREX, and her continual push to bridge the worlds of academic and practitioner research, were also vital to our efforts. In addition, the opportunity to partner with the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and the support we received from Mira Milosevic, GFMD’s Director, and Ricardo Corredor, GFMD’s Chairman and the Executive Director of the Gabriel García Márquez New Journalism Foundation in Colombia, has been extremely fruitful. ← xiii | xiv →

The volume also benefitted tremendously from the occasions we had to come together with the contributors at the conferences organized by the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Leicester in 2016 and Cartagena in 2017. We would like to thank the organizers of IAMCR, namely Bruce Girard, for his support and assistance in helping us bring our ideas to life. We would also like to thank the many scholars who helped us along the way, including Monroe Price of the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Silvio Waisbord at George Washington University, Martin Scott at the University of East Anglia, Robin Mansell from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Colin Sparks from Hong Kong Baptist University. We are also grateful to the University of Leeds, especially Professors Chris Paterson and Jairo Lugo-Ocando for their assistance with the Cartagena and London workshops. For helping us to get involved with the IAMCR and guiding us through its complexities, we thank Arne Hintz at Cardiff University, Marc Raboy at McGill University, and Tom Jacobson from Temple University. We would also like to thank the University of Westminster, especially Karen Foster, Fauzia Ahmad, and CAMRI Director Professor Christian Fuchs.

Finally, we are indebted to Lee Becker, Professor at the University of Georgia and Series Editor on Mass Communication and Journalism for Peter Lang. Without his support, this book would not have been published.

About This Volume

The idea to put together an edited volume on media development research and scholarship began in spring 2016 as a simple conversation between a small but lively group of scholars, journalists, NGO representatives, and donors at an event organized by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy. While discussing the ideas, theories, and literature that has guided the study and practice of media development, the group identified a common interest in building a knowledge community that could bridge research and practice in the field.

This goal later motivated a series of conferences and workshops convened by the Center for International Media Assistance and the University of Westminster, most notably two pre-conferences at the International Association for Media and Communication Research’s annual gatherings in Leicester, England (2016), and Cartagena, Colombia (2017). In fall 2018, the editors and contributors also participated in a two-day workshop held simultaneously in London and Washington, D.C.. These gatherings were important for a number of reasons. They ← xiv | xv → brought together researchers, monitoring and evaluation specialists, academics, media development practitioners, and donors who support media development work. These collaborative gatherings offered space to debate the key issues facing media development and offered an opportunity to reflect, probe, and unpack the history of ideas that have shaped efforts to stimulate media development. Out of these conferences and workshops has emerged a budding network of scholars and applied researchers with a common purpose and strategic goals. This volume is a contribution to that network’s objectives, and we hope that the efforts that went into the book and the contents herein will contribute to more research collaboration and knowledge exchange on how to orient media systems towards democracy and development.

| 1 →



Those interested in understanding the dynamic interplay of forces either in hindering or propelling social progress could previously be excused for giving only a passing attention to the role of media, but no longer. The spread of digital communication technologies over the last three decades has had profound positive and negative impacts on the world, with much still resting on how media will continue to develop globally, nationally, and locally.1

Unfortunately, there remains a significant risk that the future of media, at all these levels, will not be determined by those who care about human rights, democracy, pluralism or driven by the needs and interests of citizens. The development of media that serves these values and interests will require concerted, strategic action by local activists, reform-minded governments and their unwavering international allies. To be effective, this action must be supported by learning and knowledge and bolstered by a commitment to human rights and democratic values that give more space to the needs of local communities.

As a modest contribution to the knowledge required, we have assembled in this volume a wide-ranging set of essays from both researchers and practitioners on the question of media development: how does media change, preferably for the better, and with what implications for the broader social, economic, and political development? By media, we mean the technologies and infrastructure that enable communication at a distance, the content of that communication, and the ← 1 | 2 → institutions and individuals engaged in creating both. Media, in that respect, is best thought of as the entire system of components that shape how citizens witness the world beyond their immediate, everyday lives and how they can communicate and engage in turn with the wider world. Admittedly, it can be difficult to differentiate changes in the “connective tissue” of media from political, economic, or social changes simultaneously going on around it, but that is the point. Media’s current transition is integral to broader transformations, as it has been in the past.

In the 18th century, the rapid growth of books and newspapers, enabled by a combination of the printing press and the expansion of open markets, produced a new sense of emotional attachment among people living in dispersed villages and cities. This new sense of distant attachment produced by the advent of mass media—the imagined community—was integral to the rise of nationalism in Europe (Anderson 1983). Later, as undersea cables and satellites expanded connections even further, mass media became entwined with a larger pattern of globalization that has seen authority and power dispersed from state to global actors (Held and McGrew 2002).

Today, scholars argue that we are in the midst of another sea change. Relatively new communication technologies such as the internet and mobile phone are now deepening and intensifying our mediated relationships in an age of unprecedented connectivity. We are witnessing media infiltrate more and more of our daily lives, and more and more economic and social activities (consider how even a small non-governmental organization now must be a competent user of media to be effective) in what some scholars describe as mediatization—a concept that explains how media strongly impacts and shapes today’s society (Krotz 2009).

While there are many lofty questions to be explored about the moral, social, and political significance of these changes in the media sphere, the editors and contributors to this volume are especially concerned with the implications of these changes for citizenship and democracy. Historically, the media’s role in providing news and information has been considered the most prominent feature of its public service function, and ensuring that media provide citizens with reliable news and information remains a vital part of media’s development today—and a salient issue throughout this volume. But media’s development must also contend with how digital media has changed the nature of the public’s connection to the media (see chapters by O’Maley and Susman-Peña on this question). Whereas newspaper, radio, and television underpinned a system of one-to-many communication, the internet enables many-to-many communication (Meier 2011); once passive media consumers can now be producers (Rosen 2006). Media development must contend with digital media’s capabilities to allow citizens to speak for themselves, distribute and analyze information, and organize collectively. ← 2 | 3 →

The seemingly inherent democratic affordances of digital media initially ushered in optimistic talk of “liberation technologies” (Diamond and Plattner 2010). The lower barriers to entry created by digital technology also stirred hope that media markets controlled by a few rich and powerful individuals would soon be more plural and competitive, with citizens benefitting from this by receiving more information, more diverse perspectives, and higher quality news. But the early hopes placed in “liberation technologies” have given way to growing anxieties about on-line echo chambers and political polarization, social media-fueled disinformation campaigns, and surveillance and the loss of privacy. At the same time, the digital age of media has since proven to be commercially devastating for local and independent media, and a boon for large corporations and politically-driven oligarchs seeking inexpensive broadcasting assets (See chapter by Dragomir). Adding to the anxiety is the concomitant backsliding into authoritarianism in once promising democracies such as the Philippines, Turkey, and Hungary. Meanwhile, even consolidated democracies are experiencing a dramatic decline in public support for democratic institutions, including the media (Hanitzsch, Dalen, Steindl 2017), and stoking concerns about what has been called democratic de-consolidation (Mounk 2018).

While the trend toward more intensive connectivity may be inevitable, the negative social and political consequences associated with it are not. Rather, the social and political impact of media will be determined by innumerable decisions — large and small, local and global — about market regulations, tax policies, criminal laws, organizational procedures, technological standards, codes of ethics, and international development targets, among other enactments of collective will.

Some of these decisions, including in the sphere of internet governance, will have global effects, but most will be far narrower in scope. While it is tempting to believe that digital technologies and the internet have made us all part of the same media system—one global public sphere (Volkmer 2014)—that is simply not the case. Media systems are notoriously uneven, with citizens of different countries, and even within countries, having dramatically different kinds of access to knowledge about the wider world and the resources to make themselves heard.

For many of the world’s population, access to quality news and information and free and independent media is out of reach. According to recent Freedom House research “only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press—that is, a media environment where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.” Their research goes on to note that 45 percent of the population lives in countries where the media environment is considered “not free.”2 ← 3 | 4 →

These inequities are of particular concern to the study of media development. The contributors to this volume offer diverse and sometimes conflicting views on what explains the unevenness, and how it should be resolved. At the core of these debates, however, is a shared interest in understanding how media development takes place within a society, how it is supported and advocated, what developed media looks like, and whose interests different conceptions of media development serve (see chapters by Price, Stremlau, Segura, Kalathil, and Deane for different perspectives on how competing visions for media development play out in politics and practice).


XVI, 278
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XVI, 278 pp., 6 b/w ill., 4 tables

Biographical notes

Nicholas Benequista (Volume editor) Susan Abbott (Volume editor) Paul Rothman (Volume editor) Winston Mano (Volume editor)

Nicholas Benequista is Research Manager at the Center for International Media Assistance, a think-tank housed at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Susan Abbott is an independent consultant who specializes in working with non-profit organizations, universities, and donors in the areas of media development, civil society assistance, and digital rights. In addition to her consulting practice, Abbott is a doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster, and a fellow with the Center for Media, Data, and Society at Central European University. Paul Rothman is Project Manager at the Center for International Media Assistance, a think-tank housed at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. He holds an MA from the Elliott School of International Studies at the George Washington University. Winston Mano is a Reader and Course Leader for the MA in Media and Development at the University of Westminster and a member of the top rated Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). He is also the Principal Editor of the Journal of African Media Studies and a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Johannesburg.


Title: International Media Development
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