See the CIMA event here.

Daniel Kaufmann, Mark Nelson, and Tara Susman-Peña will present research from the Media Map Project on the topic “Can Media Development Make Aid More Effective?” moderated by Sina Odugbemi, at the Center for Independent Media Assistance, Monday, January 30, from 12-2pm.

Adapted from Sanjukta Roy, “Media development and Political Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa”

The growing literature on economic development, and more that on new institutional economics, has increasingly acknowledged that the media sector of a country is of critical importance in its development process. An independent media sector, free from either public or private control, informs the populace without bias. It acts as an anchor for many facets of a society and supports its fundamental workings – upholding the ruling party or exposing its vices, bringing out the positives and negatives of industry, making citizens’ voices audible to decision makers and most importantly, revealing and spreading economic and other information. However, while independence is clearly important it is not the only characteristic of a healthy media sector. A free media cannot serve its purpose unless it reaches across the whole population, and the majority understands it and uses it as critical source of information. The three most critical attributes of an effective media sector are independence, quality and reach. These benchmarks ensure that information is reported without fear of government and other interest groups, views are expressed from a wide variety of perspectives, and media has the capacity to produce political, social, and economic information for all segments of the society.

As African countries strive for sustainable development, press freedom and the broader issue of democratization of communication have become primary concerns to stakeholders interested in improving African development and governance. In the past two decades, the Sub-Saharan African region has seen mixed growth and developmental outcomes.

This paper takes a holistic look at the impact of a healthy media sector on political risk condition of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, by proxying a healthy media sector by its independence and reach among the population. The context is particularly important for the SSA region because of the political dynamics in the region, what has been called the “third wave of democratization. In the wake of these new developments, it becomes even more imperative to investigate the role a healthy media sector can potentially play to support and strengthen the emergence of democracy in the region.
First, by establishing that media independence and reach together have a greater impact on political risk condition of a country, the paper establishes the importance of a holistic approach to media sector development – both in terms of research and practice.

In terms of policy, establishing a healthy media sector can be seen as a starting point for achieving political stability in a country. The quantitative analysis shows that countries that have more political risk are likely to become more stable by making their media sector more effective.

Luisa Ryan, M&E Specialist, DRC

I really enjoyed working on the Participatory Photo Mapping project because it gave me the opportunity to try a brand new methodology. Frequently in this type of research, we concentrate on the opinions of NGO workers or thematic experts, but we rarely have the opportunity to ask the general public their opinions in such open ended ways. I really appreciated that this method gives us a way to experience the media sector through the eyes of the public, without imposing too much of our own interpretations. Unlike focus groups or in-depth interviews, PPM allows the respondents to interpret the question “how do you get your information?” in their own way, and to also explain their point of view very freely.

This very open structure allowed for some surprises, such as Mirtha listing historical plaques on buildings as a source of information, or Nehemias listing an Evangelical information booth at university. It really brings the researcher into the lives of the participants, going wherever the participants’ camera went. The way that Mirtha described her home phone as being threatening is a very interesting example of this (since her family had received threatening phone calls), and something which we may not have gotten through more traditional research tools.

PPM also provides a very useful counter point to expert opinion. For example, media experts in Peru may have said that internet and mobile technology had impacted significantly on communication. We can see, however, that over the course of this research only one out of three participants took a photo of a computer, and none took a photo of a cell phone as a communication device – only as something through which to listen to the radio. I was surprised at the contrast with the U.S., I thought that university students would use the internet and cell phones a lot more. Of course, the results from three students cannot be generalized to the whole Peruvian university population, but it was still a surprise.

The students who participated in this pilot are highly educated, and are interested in cultural anthropology. They may therefore be more knowledgeable about research techniques and media as an academic discipline than others we may work with in the future. I am excited to see how we may adapt and use this research tool next!

Explore the project map and let us know what you think!

By Gabriela Martinez, University of Oregon

One of the Media Map case studies examining the impact of donor interventions in support to independent media focused on Peru.  Participatory Photo Mapping, designed to complement this research conducted in Peru was carried out in the city of Cusco. According to the last census in 2007 the Department of Cusco had approximately 358,000 people; and the population is estimated now to be bordering 400,000. About 250,000 live in the city of Cusco. Cusco’s major industry is tourism and other service industries that support tourism. Cusco has three daily newspapers—El Comercio de Cusco, El Diario de Cusco, and El Sol. There are nine local well established private radio stations that operate in AM and FM. Two of them—Radio Tawantinsuyo and Radio Salkantay are known for having some of their programming in the local indigenous language, Quechua. Cusco has television stations affiliated with all major national networks as well as three local non-affiliated stations. There is no official count of the number of cabinas or Internet cafés in the city of Cusco, but these are pervasive with almost one every other three or four blocks. The cabinas are especially noticeable across the street from the Universities and other major institutions. The city has two major universities, public Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco and private Universidad Andina. The students I recruited to help with the PPM are anthropology students in their last year of studies at the Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco. Most of them are from working class background.

I first discussed the project with an anthropology professor who allowed me to pitch the idea to his students. Out of 35 students, ten volunteered to participate in the experiment—seven women and three men. They were excited to conduct a self-ethnography of their media consumption. Observing themselves and not others seemed a novelty to them.  They were also interested in focusing on media, something that they seldom analyze despite the fact that most of them expressed an interest in studying the effects of media on culture. I met with the ten students after they signed up to explain to them in more detail the Media Map Project and the reason why we wanted to do a PPM: in order to get a sense of what kinds of information sources people have available, and to understand how they choose their sources of information. I provided them the tasks verbally and on paper, and gave them a few days to start the work. However, when we met the next time to discuss how was the PPM going only six students showed up, and out of the six, only four had started the work. We had a recorded conversation in which mostly three of them (two women-Mirtha and Rebeca and a man-Fernando) dominated the discussion with questions to clarify their work on the PPM, and also responding to my questions about some of the few images they brought, and their thoughts on the state of information in general.

They all thought that mainstream media tends to be somewhat corrupt, and that in order to have accurate information one must navigate various TV stations, listen to diverse radio stations, and read several newspapers to come to conclusions given that media is bias and is responding to particular interests. They all agreed that in Cusco there was no serious or trustworthy journalism, and that most journalists in the city were not well trained neither they abide to high ethical standards. Fernando in particular was very outspoken about this issue. None of them were aware of donor-sponsored media (the focus of my case study), and none of them had heard of the outlets or programs operated by NGOs in Lima (as for example IDL-Reporteros or IDL-Radio), reflecting the disconnect between the capital and the provinces that I had identified in the case study. One of them had seen Enlace Nacional; however, she did not know it was a donor-funded program.

We met two more times, but on those two other times only three students came.  It was these students  who managed to complete and turn in most of the participatory work—Mirtha, Rebeca, and Nehemias. On the last meeting I recorded my conversation with Mirtha and Rebeca who spoke about their process, the things they learned, and their ideas about media in general. One issue that was mentioned a few times is that they did not log their use of Internet because during the days when they were gathering data they did not go to the cabinas. Neither Mirtha or Rebeca owns a computer, and only Nehemias has a laptop. However, both Mirtha and Rebeca indicated that sometimes they access information online although not as frequently as they use more traditional media.

Overall, I consider the experience a success given that the volunteers had not done this kind of work before. I think the major challenge is to recruit people willing to participate from beginning to end, and I believe that if this had been a part of a structured class or course work we could have had better results. However, what we have is a glimpse into how young people relate to information, and how they make sense of the information they consume.

Here is a draft crowdmap of the photo documentation of the PPM.

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