NED Welcomes the Adoption of OECD Principles for Support to Media

OECD member state representatives approved six principles for media donors.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) welcomes the adoption of new Development Cooperation Principles for Relevant and Effective Support to Media and the Information Environment by representatives of major donor countries at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a move that will strengthen international support for journalism and information integrity around the world. 

“Independent media and a healthy information ecosystem are foundational to protecting democracy and development gains and must be a high priority for international cooperation,” said Nick Benequista, Senior Director at the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at the National Endowment for Democracy. “We hope that these principles represent a turning point for aid to the media sector.” 

The OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which represents 32 major donor countries, approved and declassified the document on Friday, March 22, endorsing six principles that are intended to guide greater and more effective international cooperation in response to a growing crisis in information ecosystems around the world. Donor states are advised to do no harm to public interest media, increase financial and other forms of support to independent media, take a whole-of-system perspective to media support, strengthen local leadership and ownership of media outlets, improve coordination of support to the media and information environment, and invest in knowledge, research, and learning.  

The principles are derived from nearly 200 in-person and online consultations with bilateral donor agencies, implementing organizations, civil society groups, and media development experts conducted by CIMA and the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) between December 2021 and June 2022. The signatories to the principles have agreed to monitor their progress implementing the principles over the next two years. 

The OECD also recognized the importance of a well-functioning independent media system to peaceful, democratic societies, and the existence of threats to free and independent media and information integrity. According to the document, “a confluence of financial, social, political, and technological forces now poses an unprecedented threat to media as a democratic institution, journalism as a profession, and information as a public good,” which urgently requires an increased commitment to assistance for media and journalism. 

The approval of the principles comes as media freedom has declined around the world for over a decade. And yet support to the media sector has languished at just 0.3 percent of total official development assistance, according to a recent CIMA analysis. Out of the more than $200 billion of development aid spent each year, just $317 million on average is committed to support media freedom, pluralism, and independence.  

NED and CIMA will continue to work with international organizations to promote the implementation of the principles and support for critical independent media around the world. 

Learn more about CIMA’s Work on Media Development.