WAN-Ifra will work with UNESCO in its new efforts to support independent journalism in the face of economic menace.
The two announced their cooperation at the 40th-anniversary celebration of UNESCO's inter-governmental forum for media development, the International Programme for the Development of Communication.
UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said professional, independent journalism was critical for providing populations with life-saving information and played an essential role in building and strengthening democracies, justice and peace.
"We are deeply concerned about the pandemic's impact on local economies threatening the viability of local news media and we are committed to leading global efforts to overcome this challenge."
A number of joint activities are planned with partners including governments, media, civil society, financial institutions, internet companies and other private corporations, philanthropic organisations, individual donors, advertisers and investors.
WAN-Ifra said the two organisations would cooperate to research the extent of the crisis, consult with stakeholders, share knowledge and present policy recommendations that could help support the viability of the news media. WAN-Ifra has 3,000 news publishing company members and 60 national associations representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries.
Envisaged outcomes of the initiative are:
National, donor and corporate policy agendas have established more strongly the value of a range of mechanisms for support to independent media.
Independent media are sharing knowledge on best practices of media viability and resilience, and innovating their business models and their advocacy accordingly.
Knowledge built about challenges and solutions to business models in the global south and is being used by key media development stakeholders (media, state, private sector, internet companies, civil society).
The objective is to help catalyse new forms of sustainable business models, especially for community media and those in the global South, and establish the appropriate mechanisms to ensure urgent support, while respecting media editorial independence and integrity.
President of WAN-Ifra, Fernando de Yarza (pictured) said WAN-Ifra hoped to see the agendas of governments, major donors and public policy experts converge on the vital need to strengthen support for a free, independent press "thanks to the solutions this work will propose.
Independent journalism will be more critical than ever in shaping the societies that emerge as the world rebuilds following this global crisis. If independent journalism is lost as a public good, everyone loses. Without this initiative, much of the news media as we know it may disappear. Much of that which remains will likely be operating with fewer reporters and weakened professional standards and independence.
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