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02.08.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

IPDC Chair joins debate about research for media development

Albana Shala, IPDC Chair. © UNESCO

Media development should go beyond a focus of projects, and even on programmes. It has to begin to look at building sustainable institutions. This was the contribution at a recent conference by Albana Shala, Chair of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

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.

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