Those concerned with the sustainability of the news media worldwide recognise that if this issue is to managed, it needs to be measured and monitored. While several frameworks for media viability indicators have been proposed over the past three years, calls for their implementation have not been answered – until now. 

Drawing on proposals by UNESCO and Deutsche Welle Akademie, the Innovation Research Group (IRG) has worked with the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and to create a broad-based, quantitative tool to measure, monitor, map and model the forces shaping media sustainability globally. 

MSS Pilot
The report of a pilot study of G7 and BRICS blocs is available for download.

The Media Sustainability Barometer (MSB) is underpinned by data on 264 countries and terrestrial regions drawn from a range of global databases including the World Bank, Transparency International, OECD etc. as well as data from an expert panel. Structural equation modelling was used to estimate relationships amongst MSB factors (political, economic, social, technological, legal and media-specific indicators). 

With support form the Google News Initiative, the IRG team in December 2018 completed a pilot study of the media sustainability factors at play in the  G7 and BRICS blocs of nations. The report was presented to Dame Frances Cairncross, who has been conducting a review in the sustainability of the UK Press. “The review’s objectives has two parts,” notes Dr François Nel, who co-authored the report of the study led by his IRG partner Dr Coral Milburn-Curtis. “The first part is ‘to establish how far and by what means we can secure a sustainable future for high-quality journalism, particularly for news.’ The second part asks, ‘Looking ahead to 2018, how will we know if we have been successful?’ The MSB can certainly help answer that.”

GFMD chief executive Mira Milosevic thinks the MSB has the potential to have even wider policy impact.

“We believe the Media Sustainability Barometer will enable us to have an informed conversation about the impact and role of quality journalism and quality media globally,” said Milosevic, whose organisation represents 190 journalism support and media development actors worldwide with consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Following the successful pilot, the team are now reaching out to others who want to help take the project forward.

“We are keen to connect with others who also care about news media sustainability,” said Nel. “Individuals or organisations can help in a variety of ways.

“They can critically review our pilot study, join our global panel of media experts, collaborate on analysing the data for public, policy and scholarly fora worldwide – and help fund our efforts – and help to spread to the word to others who might be interested too.”

The pilot study report, ‘Measuring News Media Sustainability: Towards a Global Barometer,’  can be downloaded HERE.  

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