Matching the Market and Model: The Business of Independent News Media

November 17, 2011
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Moderated by

  • John D. Sullivan, Center for International Private Enterprise

About the Event

On November 17, 2011, CIMA’s panel discussion explored how the lack of management skills and inexperience in developing effective business models pose a significant risk to the sustainability of independent news media. While media in many countries have shaken off political controls of the past and are operating with unprecedented freedom, media managers and editors in emerging democracies often find they are unable to take full advantage of this new space because they lack basic skills in business management. Mounting economic pressures and the move toward mobile distribution of news with very different advertising structures make it even more difficult to sustain hard-won advances on the editorial front.

Panelists examined these challenges and discussed two new reports: Financially Viable Media in Emerging and Developing Markets, published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and Matching the Market and the Model: The Business of Independent News Media, by the Center for International Media Assistance. Both studies cite the need for a shift in media assistance that will help media managers build a more solid and sustainable economic foundation to support the creation of quality content on multiple platforms.

The speakers outlined a variety of business models for media in several countries around the world and examined what lessons can be learned from those experiences.

About the Panelists

Michelle Foster is an international media management and marketing consultant who works with companies to develop strategic plans that lead to improved business performance. She has worked with news media organizations throughout the United States as well as in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and East Timor. A former Knight international journalism fellow in Southeast Asia, she also serves as a regional advisor on Asia and the Pacific region to that program. From 1991 until 2003, Foster was the senior market development executive for Gannett Co., Inc.’s Newspaper Division. As such, she oversaw marketing efforts for 97 daily newspapers, several national brands, and niche product lines. She led efforts in branding, consumer and business marketing, database development, market intelligence, and the migration of brands from traditional to online media. Foster has won numerous national and regional advertising awards, including repeated recognition for excellence in innovation and for marketing leadership at Gannett.

Caroline H. Little is president/CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. She was chief executive officer of Guardian News and Media, North America, until October 2010. Prior to that, Little held several positions with Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive, including as general counsel, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer. Little graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University with a degree in English after attending Grinnell College for two years. She earned a juris doctorate, with honors, from New York University’s School of Law in 1986 and clerked with Waller, Lansden, Dortch, & Davis; Teitelbaum & Hiller; Crowell & Moring; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York. Little served as a member of the District of Columbia Bar Board of Governors. She serves on the DC Advisory Board for the Posse Foundation and the News Literacy Foundation, and she is a member of CIMA’s Advisory Council.

Harlan Mandel is the chief executive officer for the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF), where he was the deputy managing director from 1998 until 2011. He has more than 20 years’ experience working in emerging markets as an investment manager and attorney, managing debt and equity investments in more than 50 news outlets on five continents. Before joining MDLF, Mandel served from 1996 to 1998 as deputy general counsel of the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundations Network. Prior to that, he practiced law in the New York and Los Angeles offices of Morrison & Foerster, specializing in international litigation, intellectual property, and new media law. He earned his juris doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law in 1989 and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Asian studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Anne Nelson is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She specializes in international media development and has worked extensively as an analyst, evaluator, and practitioner in the field. Nelson consults for many leading U.S. foundations, including the Open Society Foundations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Nelson was the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists and also served as the director of the international program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Her time as a war correspondent in Latin America and a reporter in Eastern Europe and Asia earned her six awards, including the Livingston Award for international reporting. Nelson is a widely-produced playwright and screenwriter. Her 2001 play, The Guys, deals with the post-9/11 experience, and became a feature film in 2002 starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia, for which she received the National Board of Review award for Excellence in Filmmaking. Nelson is a graduate of Yale University, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the recipient of a 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship for work on media and Nazi Germany.

John D. Sullivan is the executive director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As associate director of the Democracy Program, Sullivan helped to establish both CIPE and the NED in 1983. After serving as CIPE program director, he became executive director in 1991. Sullivan began his career in Los Angeles’ inner city neighborhoods, helping to develop minority business programs with the Institute for Economic Research and the Office of Minority Business Enterprise. In 1976, he joined President Ford’s election committee in the department dealing with campaign strategy, polling, and market research. Sullivan joined the public affairs department of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1977 as a specialist in business and economic education. He earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of numerous publications on the transition to democracy, corporate governance, and market-oriented democratic development. Sullivan is an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Public Affairs.

About the Sponsors

The Center for International Media Assistance, an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy, brings together a broad range of media experts with the goal of strengthening the support for and improving the effectiveness of media assistance programs by providing information, building networks, and conducting research on the indispensable role independent media play in creating sustainable democracies around the world.

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, and Sweden, is the global organization of the world’s newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites, and 3,000 companies in over 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism, editorial integrity, and the development of prosperous media businesses. Learn more about WAN-IFRA at or through the WAN-IFRA Magazine at

Download the full report:

Matching the Market and the Model-The Business of Independent News Media – 08-22-11