Hivos International

Alternative & Independent Media

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Diverse, high-quality and independent media are crucial for the development of a democratic society. 

Hivos fosters a diverse and thriving media landscape by consolidating alternative media, improving the quality and independence of news reporting and ensuring that the media do not only hold others to account, but themselves as well. Read more.

About

Hivos’ approach to stimulating alternative and independent media is threefold:

1. Foster a diverse and thriving media landscape by consolidating alternative media.
2. Improve the quality of media and promote their independence.
3. Ensure that media do not only hold others to account, but themselves too.

Independent and quality media
Informed citizens are crucial, but information is worthless if it is biased, unchecked or censored. Stimulating high-quality journalism and independent news reporting by media organisations is, therefore, a key focal area of Hivos’ media policy.

We safeguard media quality by supporting (exiled) media that broadcasts via internet, satellite and radio and by supporting different media funds. One such fund is the Tanzania Media Fund (TMF). This innovative initiative seeks to promote first-rate independent media in Tanzania with a particular focus on topics of public interest and investigative journalism.

Another exemplary initiative is Confidencial, a weekly online magazine for investigative journalism in Nicaragua  established by Centro de Investigación de la Comunicación (CINCO). CINCO supports the creation of new spaces and communication strategies for sharing information in order to help strengthen the local civic political culture and create an informed public opinion in Nicaragua.

Alternative Voices
With the continuous growth of online information sharing, new opportunities keep arising to broaden the scope of the media landscape. Hivos supports individuals and organisations that use these opportunities to contribute to media diversity.

We facilitate alternative information streams by making online content of local bloggers and citizen journalists – including media productions by and for marginalised groups - accessible for the broader public and traditional media. This stimulus creates more diversity in the media landscape and offers citizens spaces where their voices can be heard.

An example of Hivos’ efforts to carve out a more substantial role for citizens in media is its support to Global Voices. Global Voices is a community of more than 500 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to collect, highlight and reflect on blogs and other citizen media platforms.  In short, Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online - shining light on places and people other media often ignore.

Media monitoring
Conserving and safeguarding the quality, independence, diversity and transparency of the media also requires monitoring the output of print, online and broadcast platforms.

In India, Hivos’ partner The Hoot runs a media watch website which provides tools for communities and individuals to interact with the media.  It also brings together relevant links and readings devoted to examining accuracy, fairness, right to information, censorship, and the responsibility of the media.

Hivos seeks to support (citizen) journalists, bloggers and media initiatives in both authoritarian regimes and democratic societies. With this three-pronged approach to diversifying and strengthening the media landscape , we aim to broaden people’s access to (sources of) information and create more spaces where citizens can inform themselves and raise their voices.

Why

Hivos believes that the free exchange of information, space for expression and opportunities for active citizen participation are essential conditions for the development of a democratic society. Shifting the balance of power anywhere requires strong social actors. Well-informed citizens are vital in this regard.

Information is worthless if it is biased, unchecked or censored.  But the media can play a crucial role in social change and justice if it offers an independent and impartial platform for citizens to express their opinions and defend their rights and interests.  Now more than ever, new and alternative media are offering citizens the opportunity to both inform and express themselves through (exiled) media, digital platforms and community radio. Stimulating high-quality journalism and independent news reporting by media organisations - in both authoritarian regimes and democratic societies - is therefore a key focal area of Hivos’ media policy.

We greatly value social changes initiated by citizens themselves:  civic-driven change, where active, engaged citizens play a central role. And they need diverse, high-quality and independent media sources to engage in change processes more successfully.   This is why Hivos has a three-fold strategy to promote first-rate independent media in different countries, strengthen the existing media landscape and improve media professionalism and effectiveness with a particular focus on topics of public interest and investigative journalism.

Facts & Figures

Engagement: 750 journalists trained
Expression: 50 media channels operational
Partners: 62
Countries: 16
Major donors: CIDA, DANIDA, DfiD, Dutch Foreign Ministry, Hewlett Foundation, Omidyar Network, SIDA, SNV, World Bank

  • In a number of countries in Africa and West Asia, Hivos-managed funds contributed to better training of journalists and better quality media, resulting amongst other things in bringing more corruption cases to light.
  • In 2012, Hivos partner organisations such as the Independent Media Centre Kurdistan and  MidEastYouth contributed to the increased access to information of exiled media and participative media formats that give citizens a voice in Iran, Iraq and Syria.
  • Thanks to the training given to (citizen) journalists by Hivos partners in Africa and West Asia,  the diversity and quality of information and news have greatly increased.
  • Hivos media  initiatives (funds) in Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia have contributed to an increase in the number of independent media channels.
Fund for Freedom of Expression in the Middle East

On 15 January 2015, Hivos launched a new fund for freedom of expression in the Middle East. Freedom of expression and the freedom to criticise or ridicule have been the core values of Hivos ever since its foundation. These values were attacked last week in Paris, as they are under constant attack in the Middle East. The Fund will be linked to existing Hivos programmes in the field of arts, culture, ICT and media.

In response to the assault on freedom of expression in Paris on 7 January 2015, Hivos reaffirms its support to people worldwide who dare to be different. People who challenge the status quo every day and risk their lives in doing so. “Now more than ever we need to stand with them”, says Monique Doppert, programme officer for Expression and Engagement at Hivos. “Our reaffirmation will be accompanied by a financial increase in our support for freedom of expression in the Middle East.”

By providing 100.000 euros for individual productions (2.000 to 5.000 euros each), we will support visual artists, designers, cartoonists, graffiti artists, photographers and video makers who celebrate freedom of expression through their images.

Hivos will work with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) to disseminate the support, actively linking it to current Hivos programmes in the field of arts & culture, ICT, media and entrepreneurship to foster a thriving creative sector in the region.

Examples

Since 2004, Hivos has been supporting a diverse group of journalists and creatives resulting in productions like the film ‘Return to Homs’, the Syrian satirical puppet show ‘Top Goon’, the online platform Mideast Youth (winner of the 2014 Human Rights Tulip), the Syria Deeply website and ‘The Outpost' magazine from Lebanon.

AFAC envisions a thriving Arab art and cultural scene, one that is confident in its expression, open to dialogue, accessible to all and sustained locally by committed patrons. Two fundamental principles guide AFAC's mode of work: transparency in the grant giving process and independence through a diversity of funding sources.

For more information please contact Monique Doppert mdoppert@hivos.org or Roman Baatenburg de Jong rbaatenburg@hivos.org.