Why Templates for Media Development Do Not Work in Crisis States

TitleWhy Templates for Media Development Do Not Work in Crisis States
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleDefining and Understanding Media Development Strategies in Post-War and Crisis States
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPutzel, J, van der Zwan, J
Number of Pages36 pp.
PublisherThe London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
ISBN Number07530 2048 3
Accession Number862

This report is based on the outcome of discussions at a workshop organised by the LSE Crisis States Research Centre, the Stanhope Centre for Communications and the Annenberg School for Communication. The objective was to examine how media policy can be adapted to developing countries affected by crises and war. Democratisation and privatisation were central elements of the liberalisation programmes adopted in the debt-ridden countries of the developing world during the last two decades of the 20th Century. From the media perspective, this entailed a call for the creation and strengthening of independent and privatised media organisations that were believed to form a crucial element for the advancement of democratic values and economic growth. There are, however, serious problems when relying on media freedom to build national consensus in fragile states, especially those recently emerging from periods of violent confl ict and war. In situations where national cohesion and consensus is lacking, state or public involvement in the media can, as part of the equation, actually be a constructive force for the social, economic and political reconstruction and development of a country.
The workshop was based on the proposition that attention to the role of the media needs to be at the heart of efforts to consolidate security, effective government and development in the wake of crises and war. In situations where the state is fragile, however, and where the political process is unstable and de-legitimated, the primary objective of donor assistance should be supporting the formation of a functioning state. In such a scenario, unsophisticated liberalisation of the media can potentially undermine the state building project. The creation and sustaining of independent media is central to theories of democratisation. However, in the case of fragile states, it may also be misguided and potentially dangerous to assume that encouraging the creation of free and independent media will automatically strengthen civil society, or help establish a democratic system that will hold governments accountable. This approach underestimates the complexity of the contexts of fragile states.
The report can be downloaded via the link below.

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