Media Viability

Media Viability

Trusted news sources have seen a surge in demand during the COVID-19 crisis. But in many ways, journalism is imperiled - and especially through the economic angle.

The pandemic delivered a massive blow to the already shaky economic foundations of news outlets. It intensified a fall in advertising revenue, triggered new job losses, and caused newsroom closures. 

The current supply of journalism can no longer be taken for granted. 

Independent journalism—the kind that favours public interest over political, commercial, or factional agendas—is shrinking. Media pluralism and independence are put at risk.

Policies to promote media development are more important than ever. 


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The Windhoek Resolution +30 commemorates the continued relevance of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration as a catalyst for action to promote free, independent and pluralistic media. Adopted during World Press Freedom Day 2021, its principles were approved by UNESCO’s General Conference on 18 November 2021. 

The three principles in the Windhoek+30 Declaration highlight the need to address the following new challenges to press freedom: 

  • the economic viability of journalism; 
  • opacity of Internet companies; 
  • and the need to improve media and information literacy among citizens.  


UNESCO is working to build back a better media system.  One that has secure economic foundations, and which has improved innovation, diversity, and service - to all audiences, and in their preferred languages. 

The UNESCO media viability initiative encompasses a wide range of actions.

"Journalism is a public good in a second sense, that it supports the basic functioning of our society, it supports the functioning of our democracy, it creates a kind of shared space without which you cannot have a well-functioning society."
Joseph Stiglitz Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

National Consultations on solutions to promote media viability

Media leaders in 10 countries were asked by Free Press Unlimited for their proposals to preserve media viability without compromising editorial independence and journalistic integrity. This report – supported by IPDC - summarizes those conversations with media stakeholders in Brazil, El Salvador, Indonesia Jamaica, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, and Tunisia.

As the coordinating international network of media development organizations, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) will join forces with UNESCO to help build momentum at country level to promote media viability. Rounds of consultations within selected countries are being organized to focus upon problem analysis, including gaps in data sets, and identifying national mechanisms and key stakeholders for substantive work to address viability, including appropriate policy recommendations.

Economist Impact research

With support from UNESCO, Economist Impact investigated the economic viability of the news media industry and the impact of COVID-19. The original research included the development a framework for measuring media viability, analysis of global trends, and original data collection in 10 aforementioned countries: Brazil, El Salvador, Indonesia Jamaica, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, and Tunisia. It resulted in their report Breaking news: The economic impact of Covid-19 on the global news media industry”  and also contributed to the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2021/2022.

Media Viability Trends - Research data compendium

Media Viability Indicators

The purpose of the Media Viability Indicators (MVIs) is to provide a tool to help assess the sustainability of media businesses and assist actors, through their application, in developing appropriate responses that can promote media viability as an important pillar of media development. A pilot application has been done in Jamaica.

Localizing Media Viability

in Brazil, El Salvador, Indonesia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, and Tunisia.

These countries were selected on the basis of their diversity: in size, population, language, market structure, and legal environments around freedom of expression and access to information. And just as their contexts exhibit a diversity of experiences and challenges to financial viability, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic varies from one region, country and outlet to the next.   


IPDC 40th anniversary discussion on the future of media development

The Future of Media Development - IPDC’s 40th anniversary - 24 November 2020

On 24 November 2020, the IPDC celebrated 40 years of shaping the meaning of media development . Catch up on the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the IPDC that was held on the theme “The future of media development”.