Media Empowerment for Democratic Information Access (MEDIA)

Equal Access is implementing the MEDIA Initiative (Media Empowerment for Democratic Information Access) Initiative with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs (DRL).

This two-year project strengthened the capacity of the independent media to play an effective role in Nepal’s emerging democracy. Key achievements on this project included an innovative online and mobile phone based social networking platform; media monitoring mechanisms; the production and distribution of content to educate the public about independent media issues; a media defenders legal support fund; and training thousands of media workers on media law and rights and working in conflict- affected environments. By combining these innovative interventions, Equal Access successfully strengthened the capacity of independent media to resist threats, to earn public and government respect by acting in the public interest and reinforce the media’s role as a strong foundation for Nepal’s fragile democracy.

MEDIA Initiative successfully achieved the following objectives:

  1. Improved the professionalism and standards of Nepalese media workers.
  2. Improved media coverage that is accurate, timely and transparent.
  3. Improved the security of media workers and societal and governmental respect for the vital role media freedom has to play in Nepal’s democracy.

Some of the highlights from the MEDIA Initiative include:

  • Providing training on media law and rights and working in conflict areas to more than 2,000 media workers including the 25-50 most-at-risk journalists through a unique and cost- effective cascading training model
  • Producing and disseminating a TV documentary, 24 radio episodes and 24 print investigative pieces addressing threats to journalists and the role of independent media in Nepal
  • Leveraging two online and mobile phone based platforms to strengthen professionalism and increase the resources available to media workers as well as to allow citizen journalists to directly publish accounts of newsworthy events
  • Using media monitoring and analysis as a tool to expose corruption, undue influence or unprofessional behavior (and to promote good journalism)
  • Establishing a Media Defenders legal and pro bono support mechanism connected to a legal referral system for journalists to ensure that journalists at risk are protected and those who perpetrate violence against the media are punished

By simultaneously acting to improve media professionalism, strengthen accuracy and timeliness of coverage and improve security for media workers, the MEDIA Initiative amplified the role of Nepal’s media sector as a foundation for democracy, stability and the respect for human rights.