Promotion of Democracy by Creating and Sustaining Infrastructures for Journalism and Media

A modern democratic society is unthinkable without plurality of media and independent journalism. Comprehensive and critical news reporting by journalists constitutes an indispensable element of any democracy. For the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung promotion of media and communication is therefore an integral part of their development policy commitment, aimed at establishing and strengthening democratic structures.

Activities in the areas of media and communication within the framework of international development cooperation by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung are intended to create and sustain infrastructures which

  1. ensure the professional work of journalists;
  2. make possible a flow of information as well as a national
and international exchange of journalists' products and enable underprivileged groups to have access to information.

The above-mentioned infrastructures comprise technical and organizational facilities, the legal framework, a democratic political dialogue, the ethical context, vocational training and further training, the economic bases as well as international partnerships.

For its special activities in the fields of media and communication, FES opened a project office in Geneva in May 1994 which is cooperating closely with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other UN institutions, to provide assistance to the broadcasting unions of the South and their members in the developing countries. This is done primarily in the form of advice to and further training of television journalists, especially in respect of an international exchange of television news and programmes and related technical and organizational matters. The director of the office is a television news editor and previously worked in the media section of FES in Bonn.

Initially, the Geneva office followed up on FES cooperation with the broadcasting union in the Arab countries (ASBU), after the FES staff had left Algiers in 1993. In the context of cooperation with partners in the ASBU region special mention must be made of the first advisory and training measures in support of the newly established broadcasting service of the new State of Palestine in autumn 1994.

By the end of 1994 FES also closed its project office at the broadcasting union of the Carribean (CBU) in Barbados and left this successful project in the hands of the partner organization. Thus CBU has been given all the necessary professional and technical resources required for a daily exchange of television news via satellite, for a regular exchange of programmes and a joint production of cultural and informational programmes by the Carribean broadcasting stations. For the coming three years, FES will accompany further developments by providing relatively modest financial support.

Project cooperation with other broadcasting unions of the South, for example URTNA in Africa and ABU in Asia, is to be continued through the exchange of current-affairs programmes; in Latin America, FES together with interested broadcasters is continuing its efforts to create comparable international systems.

The Geneva office of FES has also an important link-up function for the transfer of know-how from the North to the South and for the exchange of experience between the broadcasting unions of the South and their members.

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©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition mv&ola | August 1997