Using media freedom indices in media development | #mediadev | DW | 25.10.2016
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Using media freedom indices in media development

A DW Akademie publication gives insight into how the top five media freedom rankings are produced, and how media development organizations can use each index to inform their work.

Media freedom rankings reveal much about the state of the media around the world. That makes them popular with media development organizations and donors needing to decide where to invest their resources. 

But this entails knowing what kind of information press freedom indices actually supply and what the shortcomings and biases of each index are. It also means understanding how this information can be used in the field of media development – and how not to use it.

A new DW Akademie publication, Media freedom indices in the media development context: How the different information tools can be used, provides an easy-to-read overview for those working in media development. 

Reporters Without Borders map showing freedom of the press worldwide

World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders

The report, by media researcher Laura Schneider, outlines how the five best-known press freedom rankings are produced and the strengths and weaknesses of each index. It also provides useful lists of additional data, reports, maps and other information and tools accompanying the release of the following individual indices:


– Freedom of the Press, Freedom House
– World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
– Media Sustainability Index, IREX
– African Media Barometer, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
– Media Development Indicators, UNESCO.

Particularly relevant for media development organizations is the analysis of how each press freedom index and its accompanying informational material can be used in the following four media development contexts:

hand holds mobile phone showing Media Freedom Navigator application

Media Freedom Navigator

1. Selection of countries
2. Problem analysis
3. Strategy development
4. Monitoring and evaluation.

The report builds on a previous DW Akademie study by Schneider, investigating the methodology used to compile the five best-known assessments of media freedom and the reliability and validity of each index. 

(And don't forget to take a look at the Media Freedom Navigator, which gives a visual overview of the diverse media freedom indices.) 

The report is the latest in the Edition DW Akademie series, which examines issues related to media development, media policy and journalism.

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