Strategic planning

On 1 October 2021 members and partners of the Global Forum for Media Development met to discuss strategy and planning for the next four year period.

Executive Summary

Members of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) gathered during its quadrennial General Assembly to discuss the organisation’s strategy for the coming four years.

The strategic sessions were divided into two main sections:

Three in-person breakout groups focusing on:

A hybrid gathering of all GFMD members to discuss key takeaways from the breakout groups.

Following the breakout groups and group discussion, the following conclusions were drawn:

GFMD's relation to the other coalitions and networks

There is a need to do further stock-taking to map the media development space and the various coalitions and networks operating within it. GFMD needs to know where it operates in relation to these other groups and where it can add value. It would be highly beneficial to understand the different research efforts, donor-led efforts, and civil society efforts that are taking place within the community and what the difference is between them all.

Reimagining media development and looking to the next ten years and beyond

Not only should this involve considerations of digital development, but also what factors may be useful in efforts to support media development in local contexts. The network needs to consider how it can harness new technologies and how GFMD can stay relevant and keep pace with future developments globally.

US Summit for Democracy

The GFMD network needs to consider how it can work together to engage with the upcoming US Summit for Democracy. Potential options proposed included hosting a side event or publishing a white paper. GFMD could use its power and position to represent the network and wider media development community at the Summit.

Media Freedom Coalition

On the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) regional and local efforts, participants in the session were keen to understand how they work and what future engagement with these efforts will look like.

Opportunities to engage with local media development actors

The new constitution has strengthened GFMD’s capacity and structure to work with local media development actors. Not only this, GFMD is now in a position to receive feedback from these local actors and understand their priorities. With the capacity to collaborate with local organisations, we have received information that is credible and relevant on the ground. At GFMD we now also have access to channels and fora where that information will be heard and valued.

Membership criertia

GFMD needs clearer criteria for membership applications and approval. Participants discussed who can become a GFMD member, what can members gain from joining, and how the network can be truly and inclusively global.

The discussions from the breakout groups and hybrid sessions will inform GFMD’s upcoming strategy. The latest draft of the strategy can be found here.

pageDraft strategic plan (2021-2025)

Policy & advocacy

Rapporteur's comments

Media development organisations are still processing the lessons learned from Afghanistan.

There was particular focus on issues of diversity in civil society and different approaches to media development, as well as discussion on the differences between media development organisations and other CSOs.

There is a need to advocate more for media development in the broader sphere of civil society.

Is GFMD’s role to facilitate conversations and advocacy between civil society and states to advance media development or is it to coordinate more at a local level? There are many issues and a need to develop priorities – they are all important but cannot be worked on all at once.

There was debate over GFMD’s role in multilateral mechanisms, namely the Media Freedom Coalition Consultative Network, the changing structure of the MFC and the new Secretariat that will soon be created.

All members are committed to having local associations, which could present opportunities for engagement. These are issues that should be discussed at upcoming events and forums.

Knowledge sharing & coordination

Rapporteur's comments

The group raised questions of what and who GFMD is for: How many various coalitions are there that work in areas that are directly or tangentially linked to the work of GFMD? Should GFMD be present in those coalitions and networks and, if so, how?

GFMD should consider three core areas where it can work meaningfully. The three areas proposed by the breakout group were:

  • Convening emergency media development responses.

  • Convening around “windows of opportunity”, i.e. opportunities where media development actors see they can get involved in a particular country or issue and come together collectively to develop solutions and interventions.

  • Involvement in other development trends, collectives, bodies, and discussion groups that focus on other development trends that resonate with media development e.g. environmental sustainability and seeing how they interact with one another.

The group asked whether or not GFMD was a forum for discussion or an alliance where members come together to have collective power.

On learning and the role of GFMD IMPACT, there is potential to bring in a wide variety of different stakeholders. There should not be a sole focus on institutional donors, but a wider group of experts who can bring knowledge about media development. As well as gathering knowledge from these experts, GFMD should be positioned to disseminate knowledge in meaningful ways.

Membership strategy, capacity building & services

Rapporteur's comments

We need to set clear criteria for membership applications. Who can become a GFMD member? Do we have clear requirements on applicants values and principles before they can be considered for GFMD membership?

Affiliate membership: GFMD must clearly state what can be provided to affiliate members.

GFMD must consider how we can avoid competition within the network of members, in particular with the introduction of affiliate membership.

There needs to be coordination between those who need support (for example through capacity building) and those who are in a position to provide it. Introducing affiliate membership will change the dynamics within the network.

As the affiliate membership is rolled out, GFMD will need to provide information and communication material in members’ respective languages as a means of clearly stating the benefits of membership.

On recruitment, GFMD needs to decide which organisations should be actively recruited, including digital media and rights organisations.

Facebook should be considered as a method of communication that the GFMD team should look into. Small organisations in other regions outside of Europe tend to use Facebook as their only social media platform. It could be a strong channel for recruitment and engagement of smaller organisations.

Translation of GFMD content should be prioritised to support inclusivity and diversity of membership. The GFMD membership page should be translated, in particular. As should the GFMD membership form. CFI has committed to assisting in a French translation.

Global membership meetings should be interpreted to accommodate the diverse attendance and to provide a platform for non-English-speaking members.

GFMD needs to focus on tech solutions for the management of the Secretariat and also to help build tech capacities for small- and medium-sized members.

Highlights of group strategy discussion

Mira Milosevic, Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development – GFMD

Network Analysis Survey

GFMD conducted three surveys of the network, including members, donors, and other stakeholders. The network-wide survey uncovered varied opinions on how GFMD should operate. This is something that should be taken into account by members who operate at an international level – the interests of international members versus those who operate locally or regionally are often very different. The three most challenging issues identified by the survey were:

  • Issues with securing funding

  • Working in environments hostile to independent journalism

  • Inability to diversify revenue

The survey revealed that these issues affect all CSOs. Disinformation and the exchange of knowledge were both high on the agendas of those surveyed.

Highlights from hybrid strategy discussion

Susan Abbot, Co-Chair Media Sector Development Working Group – IAMCR

As the breakout group focused heavily on the number of coalitions that GFMD is a member of, the core question that needs to be addressed is how many coalitions GFMD should join, what the organisation’s role should be, and are the coalitions supporting locally-led media development.

Jesper Højberg, Executive Director – International Media Support

The point that must be stressed is to increase emphasis on locally-led media development. How can GFMD members support this – either in an emergency or in a “window of opportunity”?

These are the coordination efforts that GFMD should be focusing on, but there is a need for improvement. The Lebanon coordination effort can be used as an example of best practice for coordinated support to locally-led and informed media development. The media development community is always calling on donors to coordinate their support, but in order for this to happen, media development organisations need to develop models that can be easily used, replicated, and showcased. GFMD does not necessarily need to be the body that coordinates this support, but members should be used to apply those models of best practice.

Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development – UNESCO

If there are three strategic areas of work: emergencies, windows of opportunity, and participation in development fora, what are the priorities for the GFMD Secretariat and staff? Allocation of staff resources and time need to be considered in addressing these three areas. More emphasis should be placed on the emergency aspect of the organisation’s work. GFMD can do all three, but resources need to be allocated correctly. GFMD could pinpoint its service more.

GFMD has a two-sided market, the media developers and the media “developees”. GFMD can serve as the link and mechanism between these two – between developers and donors.

Caroline Vuillemin, General Director – Fondation Hirondelle

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has developed a set of media guidelines, setting a frame for the different entry levels into which media development can be enforced – from an individual level (namely journalists), to media houses and media organisations, to academia, legal and political environments, all the way to the societal belief and how much people value information and independent journalism. GFMD could stand to have an agreed approach similar to that of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. When there is a new project, initiative, or study launched in the sector, it would be valuable to see which of the aforementioned entry points for media development it is associated with.

Lars Tallert, Head of Development – Fojo

It is beneficial to separate media development into these three tracks (emergencies, windows of opportunity, and participation in development fora) as mentioned previously. However, GFMD does not need to see these as three separate entities, rather they are interlinked. In particular the first and third options are clearly linked. The third option is not solely attending conferences on sustainability, but it should also be related to how we work locally and include a sustainability perspective in everything we do and then communicate that notion upwards. When it comes to windows of opportunities, it may be less important as it is more difficult to draw clear cut conclusions, especially as they typically close quite fast.

Jeremy Druker, Executive Director – Transitions Online

GFMD has the potential to play a role in spreading the message of media and independent journalism as a public good. As GFMD organisations work on broader media development issues, it is important to try and pass along this message to the general public, to encourage an understanding of the value of independent media. This is beyond the capacity of a lot of organisations, especially smaller ones, which potentially shows an area of priority for GFMD.

Sameer Padania, Director – Macroscope

In GFMD’s target circles for policy and advocacy work – where there is an argument for a scale up in support for independent media – there is a lack of clarity of what is being asked for and who is asking for what. There are many different groups and coalitions which somewhat dilutes the message and the urgency of the need for support. GFMD can play a role in establishing clarity around the needs of the sector and the various groups working towards similar goals.

At a national level, there is an opportunity and hunger to engage with governments. GFMD can help facilitate the involvement of different coalitions and institutions at a national level, and to bring together those who are able to influence conversations at this level.

Courtney Radsch

There is a question of where GFMD adds value and where it can be particularly helpful in raising the visibility, influence, and impact of news media and media sustainability in these global fora. GFMD is already currently active in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) through the launch of the Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media (DC-Sustainability). GFMD could participate more in the DC-Sustainability, in particular by assisting with the production of its annual report which highlights case studies and issues faced by members relating to regulation of tech platforms and its effect on news media.

With the UN Secretary General’s renewed emphasis on digital cooperation, there is an opportunity for GFMD to elevate the issue of news media sustainability in the broader discussions around Internet governance, disinformation, and other similar issues.

Wesley Gibbings, Executive Member – Association of Caribbean Media Workers

The pandemic has changed everything about the way GFMD works, as well as the wider media development and journalism support community. All GFMD members entered the pandemic with pre-existing conditions, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. GFMD conversations need to focus heavily on this. The crises brought about and exacerbated by the pandemic have affected the GFMD community unevenly. In the Caribbean, priority issues relate to survival – people and organisations are looking to business models in order to survive.

The prevalence of social media and associated dominance of disinformation will also play a part in the struggles of media organisations. GFMD and its members need to continue looking at the regulatory environment for tech platforms that will take into account these aforementioned points as they play a part in the survival of independent media.

GFMD as a global organisation needs to make sure that it is shedding light on “dark pockets” in the global media development landscape. In the context of small island states, such as those in which ACM operates, the potential for achieving media development is significantly different to that in other environments.

Bill Orme

Considering the current situation in Afghanistan, GFMD could contribute a statement of principles of the moral responsibilities of media development groups that are working in dangerous and conflict situations. The crisis in Afghanistan has highlighted a dependency on, and responsibility for, Afghan journalists and media workers. When media development groups are involved in making new media organisations in volatile environments and training people who will then inevitably work in these dangerous situations, what is the community’s responsibility to them? GFMD could take leadership in articulating that in a particular way.

Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive Officer – Internews Europe

The quality of conversation differs dramatically if members are all present in a room, versus online. As GFMD’s strategy evolves, it must consider how it can be genuinely inclusive. It is very challenging to operate equitably if a portion of meetings are in person and a portion are online. GFMD cannot go back to “the old days” when those who are in a position to travel to international meetings and conferences can make decisions and those who cannot travel (due to finances or geographical constraints) are less involved.

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