Under Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding from 2010-2011, the Media Map Project conducted research on the relationships between the media sector and both economic development and governance. The research also examined the evolution of donor practices supporting media development over two decades in six countries. The findings were many, but if we had to boil it down to a couple of quick headlines, we found:
- A preponderance of evidence indicates that healthy media systems are tied to better governance and better development outcomes
- Donor funded efforts to strengthen the health of the media in developing and transitioning countries over the last couple of decades have shown mixed results, largely falling short of fulfilling this potential
Our research pointed to a broad policy critique, noting:
- Media development is largely disconnected from broader aid agenda
- Media development strategy does not employ aid effectiveness principles, especially:
- Country ownership / leadership of development
- Focus on results
- There is not enough data, diagnostics, or learning
The present day
The project was meant to uncover and analyze the evidence to make the case for media development. The world has changed incredibly in the five or so years since the project was initially conceived. How best to make the case for media development may not be quite the right question any more.
The world is in a period of transition, creativity, and confusion about where things are going.
We want to better understand the broader world of information, how it develops and changes, what the drivers of change are, and how it all relates to human development.
We also want to create a living, growing resource that is relevant and useful to people who value the role of information in improving human development.
We have decided to go on a whirlwind Listening Tour, talking with thought leaders and change drivers in the information space. We want to know:
- What are they thinking about?
- What are the important questions and issues?
- What would they like to know?
- What is exciting? Challenging? Confusing? Surprising?
- What is there not enough discussion about (or no new ideas)?
- What will be useful to them?
We are starting with some of the key stakeholders and advisors from the Media Map pilot, and will also be talking to tech pioneers, new foundations, media industry giants, and others who were beyond our original scope.
What will we learn? Where will we go? Stay tuned…