The Open Society Program on Independent Journalism, formerly known as the Media Program, seeks to promote independent and viable media and professional, quality journalism in countries undergoing a process of democratization, and building functioning media markets. The program sees independent journalism as playing a crucial role in the functioning of democracies and in establishing standards for practices and content in a media environment marked by evolving communications technologies.
The program supports initiatives aimed at helping media-related legislation conform to democratic, international standards, increasing the professionalism of journalists and media managers, strengthening associations of media professionals, and establishing mechanisms of media self-regulation. The primary objective is to strengthen indigenous institutions by providing financial support, fostering exchanges of expertise among countries and regions, helping establish international contacts, and sometimes advocating on behalf of local media institutions.
The Program on Independent Journalism cooperates with a number of private and governmental donors, and other Open Society programs and foundations. The program has focused on Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Mongolia. Activities have also begun to expand to Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Southern and Western Africa.
Activities have supported exile news agencies providing coverage of Burma for audiences both abroad and within the country, increased networking among media groups in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, helped journalists in Africa organize around legal defense and freedom of expression issues, and sponsored radio programs to promote peace building efforts in the African Great Lakes region.
The program has provided legal defense and personal security training to help protect journalists in Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, and Uganda. It has also helped reporters in Latin America and the Middle East devise strategies for improving investigative reporting, supported TV, radio and film productions on Roma issues in Central Europe, and conducted analyses of media privatization and independence in Europe.
Assistance to Media Outlets
The Program on Independent Journalism provides assistance to media outlets that promote democratic values and demonstrate through their editorial approach a high level of professionalism, independence, and openness.
Journalism and Media Management Training
We support training aimed at current or future media professionals, including instruction in professional skills and in-depth reporting on specialized areas such as human rights, minorities, economics and finance, education, public health, and elections.
Media Self-Regulation and Accountability
We support development of appropriate mechanisms for ensuring increased professionalism, accuracy, and adherence to ethical standards among journalists.
We support research as the basis for subsequent activities in policymaking, advocacy, and training.
Media Association Building
We provide direct support to the development of professional membership-based associations, including through partnerships with appropriate international bodies and umbrella institutions.
Promotion of Media Freedom
We promote media freedom by supporting projects that ensure monitoring and defense of journalists’ rights and that advocate an open legal and regulatory environment.