Independent media, acknowledged for generations as a fundamental pillar for the functioning of democratic societies, is under unprecedented and, in some settings, existential threat.
That threat is both political and economic
The business model which has long supported independent journalism has been eroding for a decade as advertising — often the principal source of income for independent media organizations — has migrated online. This problem was only exacerbated and hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which transformed a chronic economic challenge into an acute economic crisis.
And yet only 0.3% of overseas development assistance (ODA) — around $430 million USD — goes to supporting media globally. Funders conclude that their commitments are inadequate and they do not currently have the systems or mechanisms necessary to create impact.
The threats are also political. Today, just 13% of the world’s population enjoys access to free media. Meanwhile, politically motivated attacks on journalists and investigative reporters that speak the truth are growing. Democracy is in retreat. Autocracies are on the march and their path to power is principally by attacking the media.
The consequences of an eroded public interest media are dire. There are serious implications for electoral politics, corruption, and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are increasingly endangered by growing misinformation.
The International Fund provides an ambitious, coordinated, and well resourced international response to this crisis.