"Messy, difficult and political."

Anne Nelson's picture
BY ANNE NELSON
Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University

The panel on governance and media moved quickly into the problem that the players with the biggest funds are often those without a dedicated media staff.

In real life, this means that government aid agencies and multilateral institutions work through departments that keep media on the list -- but, as chair James Deane suggested, ranked at "number 12."

Brian Levy, an advisor to the World Bank, talked about the way the bank emphasizes the role of information in advancing social goals. But both he and Bjorn Forde from the UNDP talked about internal tensions in their organizations regarding media development.  Some tensions had accompanied the long struggle to build transparency into their development operations.  Others involved a traditional distrust -- or even adversarial attitude -- toward media.

 David Sasaki from Global Voices challenged the panelists to include the movement of Government 2.0 in their landscape.  He pointed to a number of citizen media groups that could be included in the quest for greater transparency.  Various national examples include: 
http://www.kubatana.net/
http://www.mzalendo.com/
http://www.congressoaberto.com.br/
http://www.dineroypolitica.org/

Joyce Barnathan from ICFJ added that bilateral and multilateral aid agencies could do a great deal to advance transparency by simply building media distribution channels into government transparency initiatives.  (Just because it's transparent doesn't mean it's always viewed.)

Moderator James Deane concluded by saying that development organizations have traditionally viewed media as "messy, difficult and political."  But they coming to realize that development is too.