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.

By Sankalpa Dashrath; Research Associate, The Media Map Project

A few weeks ago, I was given an assignment that got me very excited. I was asked to create a taxonomy of media development activities worldwide. The only condition was that the findings had to be visually represented in an attractive, easy to follow manner. My imagination ran wild as I started planning what I would create. The output would be lauded globally, I would be producing a document that everyone had always needed but never created. The plan was to chronicle every single milestone in the history of media development post WWII. I wanted to track each major donor, identify and analyze global giving trends and show them through an interactive data visual.

Unfortunately reality soon checked my runaway thoughts. Finding literature sources that meticulously chronicle media development was harder than I had expected. Some reports were US-centric excluding all other donors and activities. Others that included international donors were not detailed enough. Almost none focused on activities prior to the 1980’s. Somehow through this patchwork of information I was able to weave together – what I hope – is a coherent picture. Finding the relevant information was only half the battle won. Next, I had to find a way to create a visual representation of it. Trolling through the hundreds of open source software sites, I began to realize just how limited my options would be. A technology neophyte with such specific requirements as mine was pretty much doomed it seemed. I finally settled on Dataviz; mainly because of a recommendation but also because it promised an actual connection between my imagination and output.

I ended up with a map of the world, showing media development activities in chunks of time over a fifty plus year period (I chose to show them from a donor perspective and did not mention any implementing organizations). I found that media development activities mostly followed a global theme – which underwent a transformation roughly every decade or so – and could be traced to the international events occurring around the world. Media development of the 90’s saw a distinct focus on supporting post-Soviet countries, while the landscape after 9/11 turned to media development for democracy building and the most recent Arab spring portends a shift towards social media.

In the end, this assignment turned out to be just an interesting as I had anticipated but for reasons other than the ones I had imagined. Although I could not fulfill my original objective, I could definitely identify gaps in the information on media development activities, provide a snapshot view for the interested and a starting point for those willing to dig deeper.

Stay tuned for the timeline…

By Audrey Ariss; Master’s student in Columbia University’s Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program.

Continuing on the discussion from the previous post, some of the countries surveyed displayed interesting results.

Afghanistan is a unique country in the sample. The survey in Afghanistan was different to all the others as it was the only country in which questions were posed about interest in issues on democracy, education, reconstruction, women and youth issues, rather than news about the topics listed above.

The survey yielded some interesting results. While 34 per cent are very interested in politics, only 9 per cent of the respondents are reported to be very interested in democracy. Indeed, the majority – 65 per cent of respondents – do not display any interest in seeing this topic discussed in the news. Age and sex do not have an effect this trend; even ethnicity does not significantly influence the responses people gave. Whether an Afghani is Tajik, Pashtun or other does not determine the respondents’ reported interest in seeing news about democracy.

Aside from regional news and politics, agriculture is the most salient topic to the respondents. One in three are very interested in this topic, and almost three quarters of respondents have some interest in this issue. Reconstruction efforts, unsurprisingly, are also high concern to the respondents. Another interesting point to be noted is the high degree of interest in women’s concerns and youth, compared to a far lower interest in education. As might be expected, there is a correlation between sex and interest in seeing news about women’s concern in Afghanistan: 80% of women are either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ interested, compared to only 45% of men.

The chart below ranks the topics in order of percentage of people that show some interest in news about these topics.

Figure 1: Percentage of respondents in Afghanistan that are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ interested in the following topics

By Audrey Ariss; Master’s student in Columbia University’s Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program.

Using the data collected by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and shared with the Columbia University team by Internews, I looked at various sources of information that people get their news from. The results showed that respondents in forty countries share their news preferences.

I also looked at the topics in which the respondents of the survey showed most interest in. Unsurprisingly, people across all countries are most interested in news about their own country: 54 per cent of people surveyed indicated they are very interested in national news, and a further 34 per cent are somewhat interested. Only 3 per cent of respondents answered that they are not interested at all. Below is a chart that reveals the topics people are ‘very interested’ in.

Figure 1: Topics respondents are very interested in.

The most popular topics of interest beside national (or regional) news are health and healthcare and religion. The surveys revealed 51 per cent to be very interested in health and healthcare. Half of all respondents are very interested in the topic of religion. The trend is similar when those that are ‘somewhat’ interested in news about certain topics are taken into account. Eighty per cent of all respondents are interested (or more than ‘not very’ interested) in religious news.

The topics which then generated the most interested, with 50-75 per cent of people demonstrating some or much interest in news are, ordered in amount of interest, news about neighbouring countries; human rights; culture, cinema & literature; sports; and the environment. The figure for the environment is partly so high due to China’s interest. In China, 79 per cent of respondents are interested in news about the environment. This is more than ten per cent higher a figure than the average interest in the environment across all countries asked this question (68 per cent). The chart below shows the overall trend in interest among the topics asked to the majority of the countries in the sample; the blue part shows the percentage of people that are very interested in the topic, and the red the percentage of people that are somewhat interested. Each bar shows the percentage of people that have actively demonstrated interest in news on the specified topic (ie. they did not respond ‘not really’ or ‘not at all’ interested).

Figure 2: Percentage of interest in news, by topic.

By Aaron Horenstein; Master’s student in Columbia University’s Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program.

Device Ownership
Media usage is a function of which media devices individuals own. The graph below shows that people are more likely to use a source every day to get news information if they own or have access to the device/technology. For example, of respondents that have internet access at home, 41% use it every day to get news information (compared to 11% of all respondents). Therefore the low Internet usage can be explained by the fact that a small percentage of respondents own a computer or have internet access at home (only 27% and 18%, respectively). Respondent may use television the most to get news information because most respondents (83%) own a TV. One caveat is that high ownership of mobile/cellular phones does not translate into frequent use of SMS. While 78% own a mobile/cellular phone, only 13% of these owners use SMS every day to get news information.

Regional Variation
Regional variation exists in regards to which media sources individuals use to get news information. The graph below shows the percentage of respondents that use media sources every day, by region.* TV is most popular in Eurasia, the Middle East/North Africa, and East Asia, but is least popular in Africa. Africa is the only region for which a majority of respondents use radio every day.

* The regional breakdowns are as follows:

• Africa – (Angola, Burundi, Guinea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
• East Asia – (Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao, Thailand, Vietnam)
• Eurasia – (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan)
• Middle East – (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia)
• South Asia – (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan)

By Aaron Horenstein; Master’s student in Columbia University’s Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences program.

It’s well known that technology and social media have changed the way we communicate and obtain information on the world around us. From trivial matter like checking the weather after already having left the house or keeping up-to-date on friends’ latest status updates, to more consequential matters like learning of Osama bin Laden’s death while watching a Mets-Phillies game, information is available to us anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button or the touch of a screen.

This phenomenon has spread world-wide. Much has been written about in the press and blogosphere regarding social media’s role in fueling the Middle East revolutions this past year. According to, Facebook and Twitter didn’t cause the Egyptian revolution, “but these tools did speed up the process by helping to organize the revolutionaries, transmit their message to the world and galvanize international support.” This prompts the question: how do people across the globe obtain information on news and current events? Using a unique dataset, I was able to examine this issue in great detail.

Reliance on Media Sources for News Information
Internews obtained country-specific survey data from the Broadcasting Board of Governors that provides insights on citizen engagement with the news media. I specifically analyzed data on 38 countries across Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East regarding the extent to which people rely on different media sources to get news information.

Not surprisingly, respondents rely on television the most, with 69% indicating they use it every day to get news information. As the figure below reveals, television is the only source that a majority of respondents use every day to get news information. What is surprising is the relatively low usage of the Internet and SMS (text messaging): only 11% of respondents use the internet every day to get news information (while 71% of respondents never do), and only 10% of respondents use SMS every day to get news information (while 67% never do). Given the important role that the Internet and social media played in the recent Middle East revolutions, I would have expected these numbers to be higher.

Blue: Never & Red: Everyday


Stay tuned for more information and graphs on device ownership and regional variations.

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