See on Scoop.itThe Information Specialist’s Scoop

Search for the term “international media development” and you won’t find many university departments or publications. Nonetheless, the field is over 50 years old and has exerted a major influence on many regions of the world, accounting for a budget of half a billion dollars a year.

The Center for International Media Assistance, a Congressionally-funded think tank, defines media development as “efforts by organizations, people, and sometimes governments to develop the capacity and quality of the media sector within a specific country or region.”

Now that definition is expanding, through sweeping changes in media technology and shifts in the international development agenda. The “media sector” used to mean print and broadcast media; online technology has potentially extended it to anyone with an Internet connection. Developing “capacity and quality” used to mean support for fact-based journalism. A new generation believes that “capacity” means the extension of public access to the Internet, regardless of content. Finally, the term “specific country or region” has lost meaning in the borderless online space — until specific governments (think China) start creating mechanisms to control their space, and extend those controls beyond their borders.

In short, the fundamental concepts of international media development are under review. At the same time its donors, architects and implementers are embracing change, they are struggling to define and maintain core values.

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