GFMD Elects New Steering Committee, Sets Future Goals

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The Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) based in Brussels, has elected a new steering committee to run the affairs of the international network for the next two years. The election saw the emergence of 14 members with two each representing the seven global caucuses namely Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), West Europe, and North America. Six members who served a second term in the GFMD were asked to stay on board of the new steering committee in an advisory capacity as agreed upon in the amended constitution.

A total of 19 organisations initially signified interest in contesting but before the elections took place,  the Asia caucus announced that Panos South Asia was withdrawing and would support the nomination of Pakistan Press Foundation. As a result elections were held for four caucuses: the Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Eurasia, and Western Europe caucuses which had more than two candidates for those caucuses contesting for the two slots available to each. The election round was led by Executive Director Ayman Mhanna and was overseen by all present members of the outgoing steering committee.

Following the election, the new steering committee convened and the members discussed who should replace the outgoing Chairperson since those elected were all, at this point, members of the Committee. The meeting agreed on a number of criteria and the best way to choose a new Chairperson. It agreed on a preference of someone from the Global South, ideally someone with a reputation in the media development community and preferably from the newly elected members and adopted these criteria.

The steering committee thereafter elected Ricardo Corredor of Fundacion para el Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano, Colombia as Chairperson; Kateryna Myasnikova of Independent Association of Broadcasters, (IAB), Ukraine as Vice Chair; Leon Morse of IREX, USA as Secretary General and Laurent Allery, CFI, France as Treasurer.  The motion was supported by all committee members present.

GFMD members who served a second term and who were asked to stay on board of the new steering committee in an advisory capacity are: James Deane, BBC Media Action; Jeanette Minnie, Zambezi Fox; Jesper Højberg, International Media Support; Joyce Barnathan,  International Center for Journalists; Leon Willems, Free Press Unlimited; and Remzi Lani, Albania Media Institute.

Leon Willems, former chairman in his remarks echoed the desired future direction of GFMD as expressed by members. He urged the implementation of SDGs, particularly continued expansion of the work on SDG 16.10 towards bringing value to members as all candidates express that as a crucial focus for GFMD.

Willems added that the period from 2016 to 2020 needs to be the years of regional caucuses which should see more regional meetings. He urged the new GFMD steering committee to bring life to these regional caucuses, bring in new members and add new countries while also developing services (online resources and relevance of SDGs at the local level).

Visibility of GFMD is something members want the new committee to work on. They also want engagements in efforts to promote GFMD’s shared objectives.They also want the presentation of the perspective of the smaller organisations to the larger community through the GFMD which effort can change the narrative about media development towards what media development brings to real people with real problems on the ground.

Members also encouraged GFMD to dig into important topics in order to advice and include members on policy and advocacy gatherings around these themes. Topics suggested included elections, media literacy, online training resources, media innovation, impact measurement and ensuring the balance between security and democracy.

The election of the GFMD steering committee took place alongside its fourth international conference 2016 World Forum for Media Development which took place in Jakarta, Indonesia between September 20 and 22, 2016. The 2016 World Forum for Media Development, entitled Decoding the Future: Rethinking Media for a New World was organised in partnership with the Indonesian Press Council at Multimedia Nusantara University in Tangerang.It provided a platform for participants who shared best practices, new technologies and practical research, and how to help each other find solutions for challenges facing the sector and explore ideas that will sustainably enhance news coverage, access to information and protection of journalists.