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What Purpose Do We Serve and For Whom?

Defining criteria for evaluating the impact of media in crisis zones

How can we evaluate the role that media in conflict zones play in peace building? How can we measure the effectiveness of their work, and thus meet an ever more pressing donor demand to demonstrate the impact of an activity on a society? More and more frequently, media in crisis zones are faced with the necessity to demonstrate their usefulness. However, in the media sector the overall impact is much harder to identify than in sectors such as health, education or agriculture. In addition, the audience survey methods used by media outlets themselves do not correspond with the evaluation and monitoring methods promoted by development agencies.

In order to clarify the situation, Fondation Hirondelle co-organized an important conference in Caux in late 2011.  It was organized together with four American partners: Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication’s Center for Global Communication Studies; the Broadcasting Board of Governors; Internews Network; and the United States Institute of Peace. Participants included international broadcasters such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Canal France International; NGOs that produce radio programmes; other organizations operating in crisis zones; university researchers; and representatives of donor countries.

A year and a half later, the participants reconvened in Washington DC in March.

The Caux conference defined some common principles that can be used to evaluate media projects in crisis zones.