CIMA Releases Publication on Challenges to Media and Democracy

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Mark Nelson, Senior Director, CIMA
Mark Nelson, Senior Director, CIMA

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) has released a publication  titled “In the Service of Power: Media Capture and the Threat to Democracy” outlining the state of media around the world.

Edited by Anya Schiffrin, the publication contains essays written by different authors, highlighting the trends in media capture and Democracy in different parts of the world. It is the outcome of a conference held at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in April 2016, where the topic “media capture” was discussed with the intention of bringing new theoretical and empirical perspectives to the topic.

The publication aims to introduce the concept of capture to a broader audience, show how capture is manifested in different parts of the world, and highlight some possible solutions. It is the first collection on media capture around the world and the first to consider how digital technology is affecting the issue.

Issues outlined in the publication include  taxonomy of media capture, competing forms of media capture in developing democracies, media capture in the digital age, clientelism and media capture in Latin America, the state, the military, and the market: Capture in the new Burmese media landscape, unfinished business: Tanzania’s media capture challenge, the gradual takeover of the Czech media system etc.

The essays further described the term “capture” as a broad analytical framework that can be used to consider the contemporary challenges to media freedom.

Some of the chapters detail the ties between government and business that involve media outlets, and how these links survive recent democratic transitions and, in some cases, adapt to the rise of digital media.

The concluding chapter which was written by Mark Nelson offers solution to the threats facing the media and democracy, which include the role for governments in using antitrust and competition law to promote diversity of ownership, requiring transparency of ownership, putting in place strong rules on government advertising, and strengthening media regulators.

In presenting the publication, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) said it hopes it will inspire further research and thoughtful policy responses to this growing threat to democracies around the world

Please read and download the full publication here.