Annenberg, Media Development Stakeholders to Develop Benchmarks on Media Impact in Crisis Situations

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Media Contact:Joseph J. Diorio | | 215-746-1798 December 1, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (December 1, 2010) – Recognizing that a strong and independent media is an integral building block for peace in developing countries and in countries emerging from crisis, the University of Pennsylvania and several partners are working together to enhance efforts to measure the impact of media interventions in conflict countries.  In order to effectively leverage the power of media and communications to combat conflict and crisis, more knowledge is needed about whether and how existing efforts have succeeded and failed.

Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication’s Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS), the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Fondation Hirondelle, Internews Network, and the United States Institute of Peace are jointly hosting a workshop near Geneva, Switzerland December 13 - 17, which will consider ways to measure the effects media can play in advancing development and how they can nurture good governance and  help resolve conflict.  Participants include a mix of donor organizations, academics, methodologists, and media development practitioners from around the world.  Organizations that will be represented at the workshop, include:  the BBC World Service Trust, IREX, the World Bank, the Open Society Institute, and Search for Common Ground.   

Experts agree that media can play a significant role in developing countries.  For example, in Rwanda, Radio Télévision Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM) spread a message of hate and violence; ten years later, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Radio Okapi helped to unify the country, bringing a message of understanding and reconciliation.  “Policymakers and funders have taken such lessons to heart, and conflict prevention and peace operations today invariably include a media component,” said Monroe E. Price, Adjunct Full Professor and Director of CGCS.

“There are important, ongoing debates about how to measure the value of these interventions and the factors that lead to success or failure,” Price said. “Understanding the specific impact media development programs have and whether they meet stated goals is an essential component of any media assistance program. But there is little guidance on how much to spend or how best to go about it.”

During the workshop, attendees will attempt to develop a set of guiding principles for the evaluation of media development activities in conflict zones, such as suggested levels of funding for effective evaluation. These guidelines can be used, for example, by USAID or the British Department for International Development in designing new requests for proposals for media and communication development efforts in conflict countries.

Periodic blogs from the workshop will be available via the CGCS web site.  A full report on the conference will be available via the CGCS web site.