Media Development Indicators (MDIs)
In accordance with its standard-setting role, IPDC has developed a comprehensive set of Media Development Indicators (MDIs) aimed at enabling the assessment of media landscapes at national level. These indicators, that cover all aspects of media development, are currently being applied in various countries worldwide to identify their specific needs in view of guiding the formulation of media-related policies and improving the targeting of media development efforts.
The Media Development Indicators were developed through a broad international consultation launched by the IPDC Intergovernmental Council at its 25th session in 2006. A detailed mapping of the main existing initiatives to define indicators of media development was carried out, in order to analyze their respective methodologies as well as their value and relevance to the priorities of the IPDC.
On the basis of this mapping, a set of indicators aimed at covering all aspects of media development was elaborated and finalized after a two-year consultation process. The indicators were endorsed by the Council at its subsequent session in 2008 as an “important diagnostic tool for all stakeholders to assess media development in a given country and to thereby determine the areas in which assistance is most needed”. The Council adopted a Decision inviting the IPDC Bureau and other stakeholders working in the area of media development to take the Media Development Indicators into account when determining, in tandem with national authorities, communication development strategies within the overall context of national development.
Since 2008, the MDIs have been widely acknowledged by major actors in the media development field, including UNDP, the World Bank, the Council of Europe (see Resolution 1636, 2008), the International Federation of Journalists, International Media Support, the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom.
The MDIs: a framework for assessing media development
The Media Development Indicators define a framework within which the media can best contribute to, and benefit from, good governance and democratic development. The MDIs look at all aspects of the media environment and are structured around the five following categories:
- A system of regulation conducive to freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity of the media
- Plurality and diversity of media, a level economic playing field and transparency of ownership
- Media as a platform for democratic discourse
- Professional capacity building and supporting institutions that underpins freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity
- Infrastructural capacity is sufficient to support independent and pluralistic media
Taken as a whole, they provide an aspirational picture of the media ecology to be constructed in order to ensure freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity of the media.
By indicator, one should understand a quantitative or qualitative factor or variable, measured over time, that provides a simple and reliable basis for assessing achievements, change or performance in a country’s media landscape. For each indicator, the MDI framework suggests various means of verification as well as potential data sources.
Applying the Media Development Indicators
The Media Development Indicators framework is currently being applied in countries across all regions to carry out in-depth assessments of their media environment. UNESCO has thus completed MDI-based assessments in Bhutan, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Gabon, Jordan, the Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Timor Leste and Tunisia. Assessments are ongoing in Bolivia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Iraq, Nepal, Palestine, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Uruguay, as well as a regional project in South-East Europe. In most cases, UNESCO has partnered with a credible independent local research institution or media development organization, in charge of coordinating the study. Emphasis is placed on conducting multi-stakeholder consultations involving both private and public actors. These assessments result in the formulation of a series of evidence-based recommendations aimed at helping policy makers and media development actors to address identified gaps and foster enabling environments for free, independent and pluralistic media.
Other organizations are also using the MDI framework to carry out assessments at their own initiative, such as in Benin (project carried out by Media Foundation for West Africa and DANIDA) and in Qatar (project launched by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom).
UNESCO has recently finalized a practical guidebook to assist researchers in applying the Media Development Indicators, based on the lessons learnt from the first series of assessments.
The Media Development Indicators are also being used in the definition of a UN common approach to media development and good governance.
Finally, the IPDC Bureau has revised the format for the submission of projects requesting submitters to explain the links between MDIs and the development objectives of their proposals.
Developing new media statistics with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)
In order to fully operationalize the Media Development Indicators framework, a new set of standardized media statistics, which uses the MDIs as a starting point, has been developed in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). The new survey was piloted in 28 countries around the world throughout 2011 and further refined following this experience (Click here to view the analytical report prepared by UIS on the basis of this first pilot survey.). A second pilot exercise involving some 60 countries was organized in 2012.