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IPDC Chair joins debate about research for media development

Tue, 02/08/2016 - 16:18

The discussion took place at the conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research in Leicester, UK. It was organised by the Centre for International Media Assistance (CIMA), in partnership with University of Westminster academic Winston Mano and media consultant Susan Abbott.

“In many countries, you can't do media developing in a brief three-year period,” said Ms Shala.

The IPDC Chair expressed reservations about development aid that was administered in a “hit & run” or fire-fighting mode.

Against the background of IPDC’s concept of knowledge-driven media development, she noted the importance of research in assessing the role of public access to information for the Sustainable Development Agenda.

“UNESCO and CIMA could cooperate in bringing academics and media development practitioners together,” the IPDC Chair proposed.

Ms Shala encouraged further discussion on the subject at the 4th world gathering of the Global Forum for Media Development in Jakarta, Indonesia, 20-22 September.

An IPDC workshop the day before, on 19 September, will seek to operationalise SDG indicator 16.10.2 on public access to information, investigating co-operation over the scope and data sources of the indicator.

CIMA Senior Director, Mark Nelson, told the meeting that total international development aid was estimated at about $135 p.a., of which only an estimated $625m went into media development support.

“When we talk about media development, a lot of people think we mean (only) training,” he observed. However, it entailed work on both political and technical dimensions, and it required building an enabling environment with an engaged society, an effective public sector, and a dynamic private sector.  

One participant in the meeting called for attention to the political economy of knowledge about media development. Another underlined that researchers need good networks, as well as economic and political capital, to get data on media development.

A third participant noted that it can cost a lot to buy data such as that concerning audience research, and called for more sharing of knowledge.

Researcher collaboration is important, in order to share "tricks" on how to get access to data holdings, stated another person.

Further points made were that research is needed into the motivations of donors, and that gender-sensitivity is essential in investigating the field.  

The general view was that a great deal can be learnt about media development and its outcomes, if academia could be better networked, and capacitated, to expand and deepen their research.

Experts promote gender equality in media for sustainable development

Tue, 02/08/2016 - 12:25

Albana Shala, chair of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication moderated the panel. Participants included prominent scholars Carolyn Byerly, Anita Gurumurthy, Lisa McLaughlin, Aimée Vega Montiel, Gitiara Nasreen, and Katharine Sarikakis. 

Ms Shala indicated IPDC’s involvement in developing the SDG indicators, and initiatives in advancing their operationalisation. She noted the low quality of media stories that challenged gender stereotypes, indicating that much needed to be done. 

Many of the panellists regretted that suggestions which GAMAG had made in the process of formulating the SDGs and related indicators had not been taken up with the UN.

In particular, they pointed to the absence of issues of women’s access to media and communication within Goal 5 on gender equality.

Howard University’s Carolyn Byerly said the targets of ending discrimination and violence against women and girls could not be accomplished without having the means to communicate.

Women’s ability to communicate on key SDG issues is marginalized by media ownership, and the lack of access to media decision-making posts, she said. Women also continue to be marginalized as subjects and sources in media and new media.

From the University of Vienna, Katharine Sarikakis said that media should be considered among the institutions to be strengthened under SDG 16, and that this required addressing the issue of women within them.

Miami University’s Lisa McLaughlin criticized what she called an instrumentalism of harnessing media to reach women about the SDGs, rather than recognizing women’s rights to communicate.

The Executive Director of IT for Change, Anita Gurumurthy, warned against ICTs being “instrumentalised as magic bullets, and decoupled from fundamental freedoms”.  She observed that women who speak out, including on the Net, are often seen as trespassers in men’s spaces, and are intimidated into self-censorship as a result.

Gitiara Nasreen, University of Dhaka, questioned the SDG dissemination process, saying that many women did not know about them or saw them as a top-down initiative.

Aimee Vega Montiel, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, expressed the hope that UNESCO could help influence the development of SDG indicators to include GAMAG suggestions.

Responding to her, UNESCO’s Guy Berger replied that the global processes had largely been completed, and that there were opportunities to include media considerations in more generic indicators such as the share of women in positions on corporate boards.

He said that there would be opportunities at national level for applying more dedicated indicators on media and gender, which could help track progress in reaching the SDGs.

Academics urged to study safety of journalists

Fri, 29/07/2016 - 09:54

The occasion also served to publicise a new network for sharing knowledge projects about the safety of journalists. Hosted initially by the University of Sheffield’s Centre for the Freedom of the Media (CFOM), with a dedicated Facebook page, the network can be joined by sending an email  to the Centre.

Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO, opened the discussion, saying: “There is growing momentum worldwide to secure safety for journalism, which means that research on this problem is highly relevant.

“By being part of a network and community of research practice, academics can make impact, mobilise resources for field work, and discover new avenues to disseminate their findings.”

His message was underlined in remarks by Albana Shala, chair of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). She noted that IPDC would consider support for research into journalism safety, and drew attention to the Director General’s report to be presented to the IPDC Council in November.

In one of the panel presentations, CFOM’s Prof Jacqueline Harrison described a research project, supported by IPDC, which is interviewing scores of editors and journalists in six countries including their views on the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

She called for research that went into depth, beyond presenting the statistics of attacks on journalists, and motivated for co-operation in a research field that was currently fragmented.

Another speaker, Dr Mireya Marquez Ramirez of Universidad Iberoamericana stated that “safety starts at home”. She therefore proposed investigations into the practical needs of journalists and how media proprietors regarded these.

Prof Basyouni Hamadi of Qatar University reported research findings which found that the credibility of journalists was a factor in terms of whether they were attacked. He unpacked many influences which limit the professional autonomy of journalists.

Dr Chris Paterson, of Leeds University, urged research into the impact on international law from extra-territorial attacks by governments, which is the subject of his recent book “War Reporters Under Threat” (Pluto Press).

Audience participants Prof Ivor Gabor encouraged research into journalists’ associations and safety, and Prof Aimée Vega Montiel highlighted the need to assess the conditions for women journalists in particular.

From UNESCO, Reeta Poyhtari summarised UNESCO’s research and related events, as well as the Organisation’s 10 point agenda for scholarship on journalistic safety

IPDC contributes to first-ever UN report on SDGs

Fri, 22/07/2016 - 10:09

This recognition is contained in the UN Secretary-General’s maiden report Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals covering 17 goals and 169 targets.

The targets include ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms. UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) made significant contributions to these issues being included within the 2030 Development Agenda.

In particular, IPDC work with Member States, other UN bodies and civil society, helped to secure two indicators which were used in the Secretary-General’s new report as a basis to assess Target 16.10 on public access and fundamental freedoms.

IPDC also contributed related data towards the new Report, helping to highlight gaps and challenges for achieving the SDGs.

The Report states: “Far too many people are poorly supported by weak institutions and lack access to justice, information and other fundamental freedoms.”

It observes: “A free press is closely linked to access to information and the protection of human rights, but the trend in this regard is discouraging. The number of journalists killed increased from 65 in 2010 to 114 in 2015”

However, the report points to momentum for some progress in that “by 2013, 90 States had adopted laws on freedom of and/or access to information”.

Migration an opportunity, not a threat to sustainable development

Fri, 08/07/2016 - 15:10

In this context, on Wednesday 6 July UNESCO held a landmark conference entitled “Migration for Sustainable Development: Social Transformations, Media Narratives and Education”. Experts from a wide range of backgrounds came together to discuss how civil society and the media can contribute to greater understanding and tolerance in societies facing migration-related challenges.

Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information, opened the event, imploring people to understand that “we should not see migrants as victims, or much less as a threat. Migrants are people with an identity and rights like anyone else.”

Her Excellency Ms Eleonora Mitrofanova, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, shared her concerns about the social backlash occurring in many countries. “We are seeing a growth in the violations of migrants’ human rights, anti-immigrant policies, and a growth in discrimination and xenophobia,” Ms Mitrofanova said. She also pointed to an increasing “feminisation” of migration, with women often representing a majority of many migrant and refugee groups.

Alexander Boroda from the Russian Federal Research and Methodology Centre for Tolerance, Psychology and Education shared the experiences of the organization, which has positively influenced the discussion in Russia surrounding the issue of migration. “The idea is to help people better appreciate and respect others, and the opinion of others,” Mr Boroda said.

The first panel discussion was related to improving public perceptions of refugees through more nuanced media narratives, training and education.

“There is a lot of skilled labour in the refugee community – doctors, labourers, journalists,” said Arman Niamat Ullah, a journalist with Refugee.tv, an online outlet staffed almost entirely by refugees. Mr Ullah himself came into Europe through Greece as a refugee three years ago, and has since travelled back to document the individual stories of those passing through now. “We have 55 journalists, and 50 of them are former refugees. The mainstream media has to provide a platform and training for these types of people.”

This was echoed by Lisa Söderlindh from the Swedish Migration Agency, who called for identifying refugees with key skills and experience, providing training and then connecting them with employment opportunities. “The important thing is to get refugees and asylum seekers who have journalistic training behind the editorial desk,” she said.

The second panel addressed the drivers of migration and the need for social science to inform policy-making.

The panel was moderated by Prof. Mehmet Akif Kireçci, from Bilkent University and Vice-President of the Intergovernmental Council of the MOST Programme, who emphasized the priority given by MOST to Migration.

Dina Ionesco from the International Organization on Migration addressed migration, noting its environmental character. She underscored the multi-causality of migration. She noted specifically that “sudden-onset climatic events, including floods and diseases, can lead to forced migration, while slow-onset degradation makes it difficult for people to live, causing them to move as well—but it is much harder to manage”.

Mernard Mumpasi Lututala, Director of UNESCO’s Category II Centre on Women, Gender and Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region, addressed tensions in Africa between tribal and national identities. He further noted the rapid development of African cities and the pressures on infrastructure. He highlighted the increasing complexity of migratory flows, especially in Africa, where many migrants are in “limbo, comfortable neither in their host countries nor their countries of origin”.

Arno Tanner of the Finnish Immigration Service noted both push and pull factors driving migration to Northern Europe such as persecution, insecurity, social causes, opportunistic smuggling, work and greater opportunity, and a combination of any number of these. He also cited population growth, high rates of youth unemployment, environmental causes and subsequent food price increases as drivers of migration.

Finally, Adebayo Clement Akomolafe related migration to broader questions about identity. As he said, “the identity of a thing is dependent on the conditions that create it”. He encouraged the audience to look past the sterile methodologies currently used to research migrants to reach out to migrants’ narratives and thus get a much fuller picture of their situation.

The round table event was an intersectoral initiative organised by the UNESCO Sectors for Social and Human Sciences (SHS) and Communication and Information (CI), and was supported by the Russian Federal Research and Methodology Centre for Tolerance, Psychology and Education. It builds upon previous work undertaken by UNESCO on the topic, including a major event in March on media and migration, and through the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) programme.

The first round table featured Andreas Wolter, Vice-Mayor of Cologne in Germany; Ms Lisa Söderlindh from the Swedish Migration Agency; Alla Semyonysheva from the Russian Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs; Arman Niamat Ullah from refugee-led agency Refugee.tv; Emmanuel Boutterin, President of the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC); and Syrian journalist Iyad Kallas.

The second panel was moderated by Prof. Mehmet Akif Kirecci, Associate Professor of History, Bilkent University, Vice-President of the Intergovernmental Council of the MOST Programme, and the speakers were Dina Ionesco from the International Organisation for Migration; Bernard Mumpasi Lututala from UNESCO’s Category II Centre on Women, Gender and Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region; Arno Tanner from the Finnish Immigration Service; and Adebayo Clement Akomalafe from the International Alliance for Localisation in India.

Bangkok workshop to introduce new mindful journalism curriculum for regional integration

Mon, 04/07/2016 - 15:57

The workshop is part of the IPDC project to develop a curriculum and to train-the-trainers to implement journalism training in the ASEAN and SAARC regions that will take a unique approach to communication theories that promote mindfulness and social harmony based on Asian philosophies.

Sixteen mid-career journalism trainers will be taking part in the workshop along with the project team from Chulalongkorn University led by Dr Jirayudh Sinthuphan and Dr Kalinga Seneviratne. The trainers will come from Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The project team developed six modules for journalism training in Asia drawn from UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education and incorporating Asian philosophical concepts. The modules include:

  • Media and Society;
  • Asian Perspectives and Communication Theory;
  • Human Centred Journalism;
  • Reporting Climatic Change and Sustainable Development;
  • Development Journalism; and
  • Mindful Investigative Reporting.

Each module comprises 12 teaching weeks and is designed for mass communications or journalism courses at the undergraduate level.

The curricula have incorporated Asian philosophies and communication theories emanating from Buddhist, Hindu and Confucius teachings that cover areas such as social harmony, protecting nature and environment, respecting cultural diversity and encouraging sufficiency economic models. With development of mindfulness becoming a global movement today, all the curricula have a strong emphasis on mindful communication and its adaptation to the practice of journalism.

IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The Programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.

Building capacity of indigenous journalists in Thailand and Cambodia to advance indigenous peoples’ rights

Thu, 30/06/2016 - 14:17

The two basic journalism trainings were organized in July and September 2015 in Surin Province in Thailand and in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. During those trainings, the participants were introduced to journalism and communication, to the role and responsibilities of journalists and to a methodology on how to make and structure a story.

Ms Nittaya Mee, a founding member of the Indigenous Media Network (IMN) in Thailand who benefited from the training, said: “the journalism training conducted in Surin province in Thailand enabled the organization to expand its membership and to create a pool of indigenous journalists making the network’s presence more visible in the Northeast region of Thailand.” She also added that this visibility will be increased with the establishment of the website imnvoices.com, because through this tool the trainees can share stories from their own communities to a wider public. 

She mentioned that the training was also helpful for the local indigenous communities because some of the trainees were able to immediately apply their skills and produce reports and stories relevant to their communities. Five participants from the training reported also to the second assembly of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Thailand (CIPT) which has now 190 members with five representatives from each of the 37 indigenous groups across Thailand, established to promote the rights of indigenous peoples in Thailand.

Mr Samin Ngach, an indigenous activist from Cambodia, also reported that the basic journalism training conducted in Phnom Penh enhanced the skills of indigenous media professionals and fostered closer collaboration between indigenous media professionals and other indigenous peoples’ organizations.

The IPDC project also enabled AIPP and its members, through the organization of public fora and dialogues, to bring together different stakeholders, including government officials and leaders of the indigenous communities in each country, to raise public awareness about the rights of indigenous peoples and to advocate for a more inclusive policy.

IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. The Programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries.

UNESCO publishes report on safety of Journalists in Kenya, based on the UNESCO Journalists' Safety Indicators

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:45

It is crucial that journalists can safely access and produce information both online and offline. Assuring the physical and psychological well-being of journalists has become a pressing issue in Kenya. The study finds that Kenyan journalists face serious challenges in the course of their work with both State and non-State actors contributing to an increase in number of threats, incidents of harassment and intimidation as well as legal and personal attacks in the country.

In spite of these incidents, Kenya has a number of innovative initiatives to address the issue such as the development of the Safety and Protection Protocol for Journalists by Media Council of Kenya which prescribes mechanisms of ensuring safety and protection of media practitioners and promoting of dialogue between media and security institutions in Kenya.

The study was conducted by African Media Initiative (AMI), in consultation with UNESCO. This activity was funded by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Programme on Development of Communication (IPDC) which is a multilateral forum in the UN system that not only provides support for media projects but also seeks an accord to secure a healthy environment for the growth of free and pluralistic media in developing countries. It was carried out within the efforts of UNESCO to “promote an enabling environment for freedom of expression, press freedom and journalistic safety in Kenya.”

The report was developed through a multi-stakeholder engagement and consultation process that included a media stakeholders meeting held on 22 May 2015, which provided a platform for participants to plan the study’s methodology and the responsibility of diverse actors relevant to the media sector in Kenya. A second consultation meeting was also held on 23 February 2016 to review the draft study report and implementation of the recommendations therein. A peer review exercise of the study was also carried out before its publication.

The UNESCO Journalists' Safety Indicators is developed within the context of the endorsement of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It serves the purpose of pinpointing significant matters that show, or impact upon, the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. It also allows for mapping of key features that can help assess the extent to which journalists are able to carry out their work under safe conditions, and determine whether adequate follow-up is given to crimes committed against them.

To download the publication in PDF format please click here.

Combatting Online Hate Speech and Youth Radicalization

Wed, 22/06/2016 - 09:46

Moderated by Ms Albana Shala, Chair, UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), the panel included well-known experts such as Professor Divina Frau-Meigs, Professor, Université de Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle, France. Ms Duygu Özkan, Journalist, Die Presse, and Member, Austrian Press Council, Austria, Ms Amukelani Mayimele, outgoing Executive Director of ZAYRAH, a youth led development agency, South Africa and Mr. Brandon Oelofse, Senior Trainer and Coordinator, Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC).

Professor Frau-Meigs reminded the audience of how often in recent history emerging media have been blamed for causing radicalization, hatred and violence. She therefore highlighted the need to understand that there is no cause-effect relationship between Internet and youth radicalization.

In certain contexts, radicalization should not even be seen as a negative phenomenon, “because youth needs to be radical” stated Ms. Mayimele who used the example of Nelson Mandela’s radical movement in his early days.

Professor Meigs explained that ideology or religion are rarely central factors in radicalization for violent extremism, and that the context, psychological and external factors play always an important role. While social networks can be amplifiers and facilitators, they rarely trigger radicalization. The offline world and individual experiences remain the key to understanding radicalization processes.

Combatting the spread of online hate speech, extremist propaganda and recruitment for terrorism and radicalization ills should not be at the expense of freedom of expression, underlined Ms. Ozkan and Mr Oelofse.

Panelists also discussed possible solutions for current use of the Internet as a vehicle for hate-speech and, although one size does not fit all, they agreed that Media and Information Literacy (MIL) can empower young people to use media critically. Intensified efforts are therefore necessary in this field.

Ms Shala played then a video on the online harassment of female sports reportershttps://youtu.be/9tU-D-m2JY8, which shows the offensive language that is commonly used on-line against women. Participants then discussed how to effectively counter those who use the Internet to disseminate hatred with awareness-raising messages.

Pictures the session are now available online here. The recordings can be accessed here. To download the recording as an mp3 file, please use this link: http://soundflush.com/8alR5g.

IPDC opens new project submission cycle

Thu, 09/06/2016 - 15:52

IPDC encourages proposals in the following focus areas:

  • Supporting media pluralism (particularly community media) and independence (improving self-regulation and professional standards)
  • Promoting the safety of journalists
  • Countering hate speech in media and social media, promoting conflict-sensitive journalism practice and/or promoting cross-cultural/cross-religious dialogue among journalists
  • Supporting law reform that fosters media independence
  • Conducting media assessments and research based on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs), Gender Sensitive Indicators for the Media (GSIM), Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI) or Media Viability Indicators (VMI).
  • Capacity building for journalists and media managers, including improving journalism education (using UNESCO´s Model Curricula for Journalism Education).

Project proposals should request support for a minimum of US$ 10,000 and a maximum of US$ 35,000.

Interested media or media-related organizations are invited to contact the UNESCO office covering their country for more information. For the list of UNESCO offices, please click here.

Every year, the IPDC Programme supports an extensive range of media development initiatives in developing countries around the world. Over the years, IPDC has channeled US$ 105 million to close to 1,800 media development project in 140 countries.

IPDC delegation visits Turkey

Fri, 20/05/2016 - 11:52

The objective of the mission was to discuss IPDC collaboration with Turkish media, the Directorate of Press and Information, the Turkish Development Cooperation Agency (TIKA) and the AA in the field of media and migration, as announced by Ambassador H.A. Botsali during the 60th IPDC Bureau meeting in March this year.

Following the IPDC debate on Media and Migration also on the occasion of the IPDC Bureau, an IPDC project was developed in cooperation with the Turkish delegation based on research and perceived need of journalists and media organizations to increase their skills and knowledge in reporting about the issue of migration and refugees. The project therefore consists of organizing a series of training workshops by skilled national and international lecturers and journalists associated with universities, professional media and journalists’ organizations. It was agreed that the project will also include training on safety of journalists and the situation of women refugees, based on UNESCO/IPDC’s syllabus on “Reporting Migration, with a focus on refugees”.

It is hoped that this pilot project, which should start in the second half of 2016, may develop into a longer-term programme which focuses on putting communication at the center of larger development goals, with special attention the implementation of SDGs.

During the visit, IPDC delegates were also able to address challenges of press freedom, the situation of media and journalists in Turkey, particularly issues related to accreditation, media polarization and the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law. It was discussed to develop a dialogue on these topics. 

The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is the UN’s intergovernmental programme that mobilizes international support in order to strengthen the capacities of mass media to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance.

IPDC Chair Albana Shala Calls for Research Partnerships on Journalists’ Safety at WPFD Conference

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 11:47

The IPDC Chair highlighted IPDC’s history as a driver of knowledge-driven media development, and stated that journalists’ safety was a priority area in which IPDC wished to strengthen cooperation with academia to produce research. “Research will help in mainstreaming safety of journalists, raising public awareness, involving Governments in addressing impunity and finally support sustainable development of  peaceful societies all over the world.”

Shala identified three areas in which IPDC would be interested in exploring possibilities of partnerships with academia. Firstly, partnerships for new applications of the UNESCO/IPDC Journalists’ Safety Indicators. Secondly, research on the processes that lead to the successful establishment of national safety mechanisms. And thirdly, the identification and compilation of best practices from different parts of the world in monitoring, reporting on and promoting the safety of journalists.

The conference brought together more than 50 academics from six continents, and was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the University of Sheffield (Centre for Freedom of the Media), the University of Tampere, the University of Helsinki, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

UNESCO publishes first-ever comprehensive report on media development in Curaçao

Wed, 18/05/2016 - 10:46

“This Assessment on Media Development in Curaçao will serve as a good example for the rest of the Caribbean”, the Minister stated.  She added: “I am aware that it was not an easy task to fulfil but we now have a final product on the views of society and of relevant stakeholders on our media landscape, that was very much needed"

Katherine Grigsby, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, emphasized that the recommendations of the report “provide a platform for improving the environment of media development in Curaçao, and will foster a greater commitment for action by the government, parliament, media professionals, policy makers, regulators, and civil society groups interested in media development in the country.” She concluded “I would invite you to make full use of the Assessment of Media Development in Curaçao. Let us all work together to make this vibrant country and the rest of the Caribbean, ambassadors for media development.”

The report is the result of a year-long study based on the UNESCO/IPDC’s internationally-endorsed Media Development Indicators (MDIs) and is the first MDI assessment to be completed in the Caribbean region.

The publication of the report comes six years after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010 (‘10-10-10’). Since 10-10-10, the former ‘Island territory’ of Curaçao enjoys the status of autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. By becoming a new country, Curaçao was provided with the opportunity to conceive a new constitution and embarked in a series of legal reforms. UNESCO’s report is expected to help guide legal reform and the definition of policies affecting the media sector to enhance the media’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Curaçao.

The report highlights the vibrancy of Curaçao’s media landscape, reflected in the high number of media outlets. There are no fewer than 28 licensed radio stations, eight newspapers and three television stations for the island’s population of just over 150,000 inhabitants. Together, these outlets facilitate a culture of lively debate. Freedom of expression is anchored in Curaçao’s Constitution and the main international human rights treaties are in force.

However, the report finds that the media are unable to adequately play their role as watchdog over the authorities and the other powerful stakeholders in society, and calls for this role to be strengthened.

The report recognizes the limited resources available to journalists in Curaçao. No academic courses in journalism or communication studies are available and only occasional training opportunities are offered. There is no sector-wide code of conduct, no trade union for journalists, no independent Press Council, and no established mechanism for the public to file complaints.

The report also highlights the absence of public service broadcasting and community media (with one possible exception), leaving audiences with only commercial media to rely on to cater to their news and information needs. Another finding is that insufficient guarantees of editorial independence and the absence of a culture of self-regulation have contributed to biases in the way news and information are presented.

Included in the report is a set of evidence-based recommendations to strengthen the development of free, independent and pluralistic media in Curaçao. Among the key recommendations to enhance professional and ethical standards in the media are:

  • better training and educational opportunities as well as an effective system of self-regulation;
  • the adoption of a code of ethics;
  • the creation of professional organizations for journalists; and the use of Collective Labour Agreements.

The study also invites the national authorities to explore possibilities for alternatives to commercial media, such as independent public service broadcasting and the promotion of community media to ensure media diversity in Curaçao.

The report encourages the Government of Curaçao to support the free flow of information by institutionalizing its responsibility to respond to information requests and ensure the proactive disclosure of important governmental information. This includes the release of parliamentary documents, governmental advisory reports and consolidated versions of all current legislation. It further recommends the establishment of an independent body for regulating the broadcasting sector that follows international standards on independence, membership, accountability and transparency.

Additionally, the report proposes that the media industry develop an effective system to ensure transparency in terms of ownership and influence on the media, both financial and political. It also invites the Government, the education system and civil society organisations to promote media and information literacy to help foster a critical use of the media and a demand for an independent press.

The MDI assessment process in Curaçao was nationally-driven and, as little data on media development was available, it involved wide-ranging consultations with key media stakeholders in addition to desk-based research. ‎The consultations included 28 in-depth interviews throughout Curaçao, four focus groups with media workers and members of the public, and three opinion polls respectively targeting 54 media workers, 11 media managers and a representative sample of 708 inhabitants of Curaçao. Careful attention was given to including perspectives from all areas and to ensuring a gender-sensitive approach.

The preliminary findings of the assessment were presented and discussed at the National Conference of Media Development in Curaçao organized in August 2014, attended by some 50 media stakeholders. The feedback received at this conference was taken into account in the finalization of the report.

UNESCO also supported a series of Master Classes based on the findings of the report to assist media development in Curaçao. This programme, implemented in partnership with the Curaçao National Commission for UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and RE-Quest Research & Consultancy, followed up on several key recommendations of the report, such as ensuring appropriate training opportunities for journalists, promoting a code of professional ethics and educating citizens to be critical media users. 

The assessment of Curaçao’s media landscape using UNESCO’s MDIs was financed by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and benefitted from the support of the National Commission of Curaçao to UNESCO, the University of Curaçao (UoC) and the Bureau Telecommunicatie en Post (BTP).

The UNESCO/IPDC Media Development Indicators were developed in 2008 and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s IPDC. Since their endorsement, they have become one of IPDC’s flagship initiatives and have been applied in 16 countries, while assessments are underway in many more.  

To access the full Report on Media Development in Curaçao, click here.