Beginning May 2, 2019, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will be holding dissemination fora with media managers and editors in Benin, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal to present findings on studies on media sustainability and capacity development in West Africa.
The studies conducted by the MFWA assessed the capacity of the media in West Africa and identified challenges to media sustainability and capacity improvement in the region. The fora will therefore inform the media managers and editors of the findings and serve as a platform to discuss and develop concrete strategies and recommendations for media development in the region.
The dissemination fora form part of the activities under the MFWA’s project on, promoting free, independent and quality media in West Africa through knowledge sharing and capacity building being funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).
Whilst the media is expected to play an active role in ensuring good governance, in many countries in West Africa, the media’s contribution is perceived to be inadequate or ineffective. The media is further plagued with challenges of unprofessionalism, partisanship, financial weakness and lack of sustainability. These challenges have led to limited investigative and critical reporting to demand transparency, accountability and development from duty-bearers.
As a result of sustainability challenges, the media have had to resort to survival tactics that prioritises commercialisation at the expense of quality and professionalism. The media are therefore increasingly becoming less impactful to the public, a situation that lowers the public’s trust and support for media freedom.
The project therefore seeks to improve quality, independence and freedoms of the media to enable them effectively contribute to fostering democratic, accountable and open societies in West Africa. The project, through the capacity assessment conducted, have identified some media organisations to be supported.
Other activities under the project include producing evidenced-based data on media development themes such as media ownership patterns, audience mapping and targeting techniques, and media capacity development modules. The project will also host prominent media experts in knowledge sharing sessions dubbed ‘Time with the Veterans’ to discuss issues of media development in the West Africa region.