Media & development

The 'media and development' programme seeks to encourage media organisations in the developing world to play a larger role in issues concerning development, by strengthening the bond of trust between journalists and civil society.
The development of innovative productions, at both a national and local level, helps people to understand and appreciate how they can each contribute, in their own way, to these global movements.
Cooperation between the media goes a long way to optimising the impact of certain development aid programmes that CFI have initiated.

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1.General context: the process of bringing development issues to the fore

The first steps towards a convergence of agendas

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the product of a long international negotiation process initiated in the 1990s by the UN bodies. After a period strongly characterised by the Bretton Woods financial institutions (IMF, the World Bank), the UNDP, supported by the UN's major agencies, is going to take the reins by pursuing a multidimensional development approach incorporating social and environmental considerations.

The World Summit in Rio in 1992 is a symbolic marker of this turning point towards a more humanistic development approach. At the 55th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2000, the Millennium Summit concluded with the adoption of the Millennium Declaration, which has influenced the strategic organisation of the aid sector in the long term, with 2015 as a time frame. The text states that "the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people". It also refers to "the right to development" as a means of overcoming hardship.

In parallel with this developmentalist way of thinking, the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997 symbolises the emergence of an awareness of "environmental sustainability" shared by the 184 signatory States. The binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gases in order to combat global warming has led to the implementation of various mechanisms for achieving these objectives.

2015 marks a pivotal year that must conclude a complex process of renegotiating this global agenda at the 70th General Assembly of the UN. Even if the final content is not yet known, it should establish a form of convergence between the postMDG agenda and the postKyoto agenda in order to contribute to broader sustainable development goals. COP 21 (21st Conference of the Parties) must go beyond annual meetings evaluating the progress made by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in order to refocus the commitment of the States on new goals.

The expected convergence should lead to an agreement that is universal (all the 195 States and parties are involved, without distinction) but differentiated (quantitative targets set depending on the specificities of each country). It should also stipulate that the development cannot be restricted to an economic and social dimension but must integrate an environmental dimension.

Transition of the MDGs to post2015 goals

Transition of the MDGs to post2015 goals

The preparatory work on the post2015 goals is being led by several groups mandated by international bodies and must lead to a redefinition of a greater number of goals than those of the MDGs. The organisation of these goals must materialise around social, economic, environmental and peacekeeping dimensions (governance, peace and security).

Before the general framework was even made public, as of December 2014, Article 78 of the synthesis reportof the Secretary-General on the post2015 2 sustainable development agenda cited freedom of the press and access to information in the list of areas where action is required in order to strengthen the institutions of democratic governance. It thus reiterates what UNESCO has said: "the importance of promoting freedom of expression and universal access to knowledge and its preservation - including, among others, through free, pluralistic and independent media, both offline and online – as indispensable elements for flourishing democracies and to foster citizen participation must be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda".

This recognition legitimises and reinforces the mandate that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development entrusted to CFI with a view to contributing to the modernisation of the media in the countries of the South using an approach of public development aid.

2.Media and development

The connection between media and development has been explored since the end of the Second World War, while the term "development" has become formalised and operators (agencies, institutions) have become involved using international cooperation approaches. This connection has taken various forms depending on the priorities and programmes implemente.

Media: a tool of development transfer

Media: a tool of development transfer

The academic works of Lerner and Schramm, widely publicised by UNESCO, attribute to the African media (radio, initially) since the 1950s a role of development multipliers. These principles are based on their analysis of the delay of these countries in taking steps towards modernisation and on the importance of achieving a "transition from traditional society to modern society, characterised by a level of urbanisation of over 25% and a literacy rate of over 61%" (Lerner, 1958).

In this approach, radios are perceived as actors that are able to support the increase of literacy rates and encourage the abandonment of behaviour that stands contrary to modernity, two factors that reinforce the efforts of the countries concerned in heading towards more growth. UNESCO relied heavily on this vision in the 1960s by encouraging awareness programmes on the radio, rural radio stations and radio listening clubs.

This vision could be harmoniously reconciled with the developmentalist paradigm of the time: modernisation. According to this perspective, the countries of the North (in Europe and the United States) implemented international policies motivated by vague desires for development against a backdrop of decolonisation and the Cold War. As development is evaluated solely in industrial and urban terms and in terms of growth, the ground lost by some countries could be made up via the voluntarism of technological, economic and cultural transfer policies.

In this context, local media (primarily radio stations) was considered to be a transfer and outreach tool. The experiments conducted, which were not very conclusive, demonstrated that simply broadcasting a message does not automatically mean that it will be taken on board.

Media: a tool of cultural independence

In the 1970s, the McBride report (Many Voices One World), published under the aegis of UNESCO, emphasised the risk of developing countries merely remaining passive recipients of information and entertainment programmes emanating from the industrialised world. Following this report, which, incidentally, the UN authorities will never be able to approve, there was a drive for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO).

Analysis of this report took place at a time when dependency theories (particularly by the Brazilian Fernando Henrique Cardoso) pointed to the responsibility of the countries of the North to explain the delays experienced by some countries of the South.

This growing awareness of the unidirectional North-South flow led several South American countries (including Brazil and Mexico) to build powerful national audiovisual sectors, which, since then, have become exporters of content. At the same time, while African audiovisual media was being dominated by state monopolies, the McBride conclusions made a larger contribution to legitimising greater state control than they did to increasing national production.

In hindsight, even if the McBride report paved the way for information theory, the rebalancing of the information flow and the development of this sector in the countries of the South has led to very contrasting situations. In many cases, particularly in Africa or South Asia, this approach has resulted in the reinforcement of authoritarian States while marginally contributing to the development of the countries.

Media: a tool of democracy

The end of the 1980s through to the 1990s marks a profound political and social upheaval that sees the liberalisation of power and the birth of private media. The States lose their monopoly. Private newspapers and then, as of 1995, private radio stations are established at a breathtaking pace (albeit at an uneven pace depending on the country).

During this period, research on African media itself experienced a renaissance after, "by all evidence, the research topic lost its appeal" (original quote taken from Hyden, 2002, p.6) when the governments exerted authoritarian control in the aftermath of the attainment of independence. From the 1990s, there was a renewed interest, with a large number of works announcing that African media was a "tool of democratisation".

It was a period of hope. The media, as was the case in Europe in the periods marking the advent of democracy, was going to raise awareness, stimulate public debate and political pluralism, raise the level of political debates and exert the necessary citizen control. This perspective was also in line with the development paradigm of the time, which was built around a transition to a more human development, which was not so strictly economic, encouraging good governance and the rise of civil society into which new private media organisations were rapidly integrated.

However, the structuring of the media landscape of developing countries clearly did not give rise to enough adversarial and critical debate. It would not be until the mid1990s, with the role of the media in the Rwandan tragedy, the closing of a large number of newspapers and the decline of certain media, that the enthusiasm towards African media was tempered. During this era, naïve optimism gave way to an objective evaluation of the obstacles: structural weakness of the readers (or audience), precarious economic profitability, multiple pressures in the contexts of partial democratisation of regimes, a high level of corruption, weakness of training, massive inequalities in development, etc.

From this period on, the policies of influence of the countries of the North gradually gave way to the advancement of public development aid policies responding to the priorities of structuring the sector and reinforcing professionalism, ethics and pluralism.

At the beginning of the 2000s, a connection was clearly established between the fragility of democratic governance processes and the efficiency of the development programmes of countries (and even regional areas in some cases). Due to the very nature of their activity, media landscapes constitute visible and clear indicators of the deficiencies of certain countries. Development policies are beginning to take account of the fact that the pluralism, independence and professionalism of media players constitute priorities in their own right.

Media: a tool of raising awareness and changing behaviour

Since the 1980s, in line with the modernisation approach, the idea that the media is capable of raising awareness and helping to change behaviour has emerged. Even if the goal of modernisation has been formally discredited, the idea that the media can help to bring about change by raising awareness of good practices remains. From the 2000s onwards, this approach would be reinforced by the growing use of the media as a tool of conflict resolution.

Under the influence of NGOs, more and more analyses on the power of the media, primarily radio stations, are being developed to reconcile old enemies (Howard, 2005). The topics of media in peacebuilding or media in reconciliation are addressed very regularly by several NGOs, such as Search for Common Ground, RCN Justice & Démocratie, etc., which operate on the basis of the principle of media as a tool for changing behaviour.

At the other end of the spectrum of the players in development aid, UNICEF, for example, is initiating integrated communication plans that mobilise the media and social players in order to implement new practices (combating disease, raising awareness of female circumcision, etc.). This movement is undoubtedly one of the most sustainable in terms of the relationship between the media and development. Nowadays, it is experiencing a renewal oriented around environmental themes, whereby the media is being mobilised to convey more ecological living practices or to popularise positive initiatives.

The media: a tool of participation

Around fifteen years ago, finally, under the influence of information and communication technologies, traditional and social media began to contribute to new and strengthened form of public participation. By both affecting and involving public opinion and the political class, they have widened the media sector's sphere of influence.

Far from being competitors, social media, the Internet and audiovisual media coexist and interact in accordance with a process of media confluence, as described by Tourya Guaaybess (Guaaybess, 2012). She describes a coexistence of the media, which is always increasing in number and, far from condensing or standardising, influences and complements itself to the benefit of the public, which consults it alternately or even simultaneously.

These considerations in relation to the new possibilities for participation and to increasing the media's capacity to reach out via new digital means of expression constitute the most recent line of thinking for media articulation and development. Although it has not been theorised, the study of the international actors involved in supporting the media of the South demonstrates a considerable investment in this direction. This articulation forms part of the new paradigm in play today, that of sustainable development, which aims to be more inclusive and therefore more participatory.

What is to be expected in the current context of globalisation and opening up of markets

Successive issues continue to influence expectations in the area of media development. The opening up of the markets, technological revolutions and the mobility of individuals are shuffling the deck and giving new responsibilities to the actors of this sector.

Whereas the issues of the MDGs were restricted to eight priorities that offered an abundance of routes of intervention in terms of "communication for development" or "fostering professionalism among the media", the ongoing convergence of development agendas is broadening the scope. The work with the media of the South is evolving in this context towards the development of professional practices and approaches that every media organisation can implement depending on the priorities and concerns of its public

3.Chapter 3

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