MDIF’s Impact Dashboard: A Case Study in Measuring MediaDev

When it comes to measuring success or failure, media developers face many of the same challenges as the rest of the international development community.

Do you measure inputs, such as the amount of money that is invested in media development initiatives? Or do you track outcomes from projects—the number of people trained or the knowledge that they gained from training? Should we be looking at organizational performance of media enterprises, such as the increase in audience or reach, or their profit and loss accounts? Or should we be looking at broader impacts on society in terms of poverty reduction, improved governance or overall peace and economic growth that an independent media can help to achieve?

One creative attempt at answering these questions is the just-released Impact Dashboard 2014 from the Media Development Investment Fund. This document is a must-read for media developers because of the clear and graphic way that MDIF has tracked the results of its work.

MDIF is one of the most interesting and creative creatures of the media development field—an organization that makes loans and equity investments in, and offers technical support to promising media enterprises in developing countries.  As such, it is already addressing one of the higher-level possible outcomes of media development, sustainable media enterprises. Compared with some of the early attempts at addressing problems in the media sector by simply training journalists, it is already yards ahead.

MDIF is also ahead in the results game.  It looks at change at several levels, and it attempts to address the fundamental question of why high quality, independent media matters to developing societies. MDIF’s results framework measures its outputs, in terms of loans, equity investments and technical assistance; it looks at client outputs in terms of quality reporting and content production; and it suggests results at the societal level in terms of impact on reducing corruption and improving accountability.

MDIF’s solution to the results question mirrors closely the similar work carried out under the auspices of the Learning Network on Capacity Development , which is a network of development practitioners that has contributed to the last three global accords on aid effectiveness.  LenCD has worked to build a stronger understanding  of capacity development  as more than just outputs—not just  training and technical assistance—but a broader set of activities and focus on higher level results. These results can be tracked and measured at multiple levels. I have summarized one way of looking at these levels of capacity development outcomes in the diagram below.

measuring impact of media development v2

MDIF’s Impact Dashboard is an important reminder about the importance of articulating the results of media development work. As the international community gears up for a new set of international development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals that expire next year, initiatives such as this one can help us make the case that media development can be measured, that money spent on media development is well used, and that high quality independent media really matters for developing societies.

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Posted in global, Impact and Evaluation, Sustainability

ONA 2014: The Legal Panel

The Online News Association’s annual conference has grown in substance and topic each year, but one steadfast subject remains on the agenda: media law. While several aspects of this discussion did highlight issues specific to the United States, the overarching theme was that the rapid growth of digital journalism and technology leaves many questions regarding protection of confidential sources, what information is off limits to authorities, and when you are truly protected. True, many of these laws are specific to the United States, but today we can apply many of these concepts globally.

Michael Kovaka introduces panelists at ONA 14.

Michael Kovaka introduces panelists at ONA 14.

At a conference with cutting edge products lining the halls, the legal panel offered a glimpse into the work that must be done in legal systems not only in the United States, but around the world to catch up with the realities of digital newsrooms. Even in a country like the United States where First Amendment rights are enshrined, it is difficult to know when you are protected and when you aren’t.

Reminiscent of Watergate, Barbara Wall of Gannett Co. said that if you want to keep your sources confidential, “find a Rosslyn garage. That which does not exist can not be subpoenaed.”

After urging caution to all of the attendees when protecting sources, panelists discussed issues like prior restraint, cell phone warrants, the Privacy Protection Act, and newsroom social media policies,  the overarching theme prevailed: governments and law enforcement agencies have the power to obtain your information.

“Wherever fear goes, bad law follows.” -Gregg Leslie

If the government wants to know who your sources are, they will. “The more important your story is, the less you are going to be able to do to stop them,” said Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

While the legal panel did not delve into similar issues throughout the world, we know that government surveillance runs rampant in countries like Russia, where independent media outlets and journalists struggle to simply do their jobs on a daily basis.

For more information about this event and to hear more details about this conversation, please click here. 

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Posted in General

ONA 2014: The blended worlds of digital journalism

The Online News Association’s annual conference on emerging trends in digital journalism kicks off in Chicago today, with nearly 100 sessions varying from lightning talks to hands-on workshops for the next three days.

chicago ona 14

In its 15 years, the ONA conference has seen dramatic technological shifts that have completely altered the scope of journalism. A far cry from its first years of small gatherings at universities around the country, today nearly 2000 participants, 700 of which are first-time attendees, will discuss the varied roles for technology in journalism. A major point of interaction for attendees thus far has been the conclusion that all journalists must now be digital journalists, as the line between print and online media is blurred.

The keynotediscussion today began with a divided conversation on the role of media in the recent protests in Ferguson, MO, following the shooting death of an unarmed teenager by a police officer. The viral nature of the protests, which were brought to life through images and videos shared on social media, made the conversation all the more relevant to ONA’s purpose.

For a full list of conference materials, schedules, and attendees, see their website: Many sessions will be livestreamed. CIMA will be writing our impressions from several of the sessions, so follow our blog and #ONA14 for updates!

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Posted in global, Innovation

Tweetchat: Open Journalism with the OSCE

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Posted in Europe and Eurasia, global, Innovation

Open Journalism and the Open Road Ahead

Guest post by Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

As the technological landscape evolves in an increasingly digitized world, so widens the wellspring of news and information: shaky cell phone footage, amateur photography, even hastily composed tweets and social media posts. Open Journalism is an appropriate catch-all for these new sources, and, in a sense, represents a return to an honest and transparent newswriting. There are no style guides to be read, no editors to be consulted, no rules to be followed.

In this vein, however, the greatest strength of Open Journalism is also its most glaring pitfall – the lack of regulation and professional standards. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media seeks to explore the many trappings of Open Journalism, since the practice of involving readers and civilians raises questions that are legal, ethical, and regulatory in nature. Issues that traditional journalists encounter are similarly present, such as protection of sources, access to information and editorial independence.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, at the Permanent Council in Vienna, 16 January 2014. Credit: OSCE/Micky Kroell

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović, at the Permanent Council in Vienna, 16 January 2014. Credit: OSCE/Micky Kroell

As such, in 2014 the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will hold a series of meetings among experts, policymakers and regulators touching on the practice and terminology of Open Journalism, legal issues, accountability and regulatory challenges. The meetings will help increase our understanding of the issues involved, best practices and possible solutions to advance and strengthen free media (see

The first meeting was held on 5 May in Vienna ( The second meeting will be held on September 19 and in the run up to event, a Tweetchat will be held on September 18 from 10 – 11 EST.

The Tweetchat will provide an online forum for members of the international media development community to come together and pose questions about Open Journalism. To ask a question, simply log on to Twitter and tweet your question using the hashtag #askrfom. Help us cross miles and time zones with technology and pose your question on Open Journalism on September 18!

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Posted in Europe and Eurasia, global, Innovation, Sustainability