"Media landscapes in countries undergoing transition often change radically and just as often there is no solid knowledge about these changes. This means that the different stakeholders in the media and civil society navigate in unknown territories governed by unsubstantiated claims and rumours."
Produced with the support of International Media Support (IMS), this handbook provides advice and recommendations on how to establish a media mapping capacity in countries that recently have experienced political change. It is designed to provide a brief introduction to how a basic mapping of the media landscape in transitional countries can be established so that civil society, politicians, media owners, and journalists can make informed decisions. "The aim of mapping media landscapes is to secure transparency through providing trustworthy and reliable information that is as 'objective' as possible on the media situation and thereby establish an informed foundation for enlightened decision-making and public debate." Based on the authors' (of Aarhus University) varied experiences from consulting the implementation of media mappings in several transitional countries, the handbook focuses on 2 of these projects: (i) mapping the Mongolian media landscape initiated in 1999, 10 years after the breakdown of Communism and (ii) the mapping of the Libyan media landscape initiated in 2012, 1 year after the Libyan revolution in 2011 and the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.
Piggybacking on the experiences from these 2 projects and subsequent reflections, the authors investigate why the Mongolian project was a success and still operating and in turn why the Libyan was far less successful despite similar methodological approaches. On the basis of these experiences, the authors provide a description of a number of general circumstances that they believe should be taken into account before and during the process of setting up a media mapping capacity. They focus on:
- Why conduct media mapping;
- How to initiate a media mapping project;
- Who should conduct the mapping;
- Funding and expenses;
- What should be included in the media mapping;
- Data collection; and
- Data analysis and presentation.
The authors recommend that those initiating a media mapping project always take into account contextual issues related to the character of the transition, the timeframe after the initial transition, the political and social context, the institutional anchoring, and so on. They also note that the personal qualities and commitment of the project manager is crucial for successful implementation of a media mapping project. A third lesson relates to the institutional anchoring and local ownership when implementing media mapping. In the Mongolian case, the project was from the very beginning successfully integrated in the Press Institute and gained credibility from the recognised reputation of the Press Institute. However, the Libyan Media Institute was not yet well established and, thus, it was never possible to establish a similar synergy with the media mapping inititiative. A final lesson learned is the increased complexity of the media landscapes, which places new demands on the project design of the mapping.
IMS website, January 11 2017. Image credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images