Measuring media viability: New DW Akademie indicators | #mediadev | DW | 11.01.2017
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discussion paper

Measuring media viability: New DW Akademie indicators

A DW Akademie publication presents the organization's suggestion for new indicators to measure media viability around the world. The criteria were developed as an amendment to UNESCO's Media Development Indicators.

In this time of digital transformation, media's traditional business models are under strain. As a consequence, media all over the world need to come up with new ways to ensure their survival. At the same time, media development actors are searching for new concepts and orientation in their support of media organizations and media markets. In order to effectively enhance media viability, all of the different stakeholders need to be able to understand and thoroughly analyze the complex challenges facing media worldwide.

GMF 2015 Social media vs. digital jihad

Digital transformation: media's traditional business models have come under strain

The new DW Akademie publication "Measuring the Business Side: Indicators to Assess Media Viability" presents and discusses DW Akademie's suggestion for indicators to measure the economic viability of a pluralistic and diverse media sector. The report provides an easy-to-read overview of the different aspects necessary to guarantee media viability, as well as advice on how to assess them. The aim is to advance the discussion and practical work on media viability with this diverse and yet distinct set of criteria. 

With the goal of reinforcing the business side of media development, the indicators were developed by DW Akademie in the context of a joint project with UNESCO. The Media Viability Indicators are to serve as an amendment to UNESCO's current Media Development Indicators (MDIs), which are integrated here as a sixth category.

DW Akademie's understanding of media viability does not only include financial sustainability (economic survival) but also the ability of media outlets to produce high quality journalism in the long term. Therefore, the Media Viability Indicators take into account the financial strategies and managerial structures of individual media outlets, the overall economic conditions in a country and the structures the media market needs to ensure independence, pluralism and professional standards.

Media Freedom Navigator Symbolbild

DW Akademie's online tool Media Freedom Navigator provides information on the MDIs

In fact, the indicators are divided into three thematic dimensions representing the different levels of a media landscape:

  1. Macro level: the overall economic environment in a country (systemic)
  2. Meso level: structure of the media market and revenue sources (media industry)
  3. Micro level: media organizations' resources and structures (individual media outlets)

Overall, DW Akademie's suggestion for the Media Viability Indicators consists of six broader key indicators and 18 more detailed sub-indicators. Although still a work in progress, the resource can already be used to analyze media landscapes and support the development of strategies related to viability on different levels. 

The full report can be downloaded here.

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