Center for International Media Assistance
The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) is an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). CIMA works to improve the development of independent media worldwide while working to strengthen the support for such development. The center works to improve the effectiveness of existing media development efforts by conducting research and bringing together a broad range of experts to share their experiences. CIMA's mission is based on the conviction that free and independent media play an indispensable role in developing sustainable democracies around the world.
CIMA approaches its mission through three main activities: reports, events, and catalyst activities. In order to remain a neutral platform and avoid competition with existing media development organizations, CIMA does not give grants or any other form of funding.
CIMA’s reports provide a knowledge base on a variety of topics in media assistance. The goal of these reports is to provide policymakers, as well as donors and practitioners, with practical information on the importance of free media to the development of a society. These reports fall into three basic categories: research reports, working group reports, and event reports.
Empowering Independent Media
CIMA’s inaugural 2008 report Empowering Independent Media: U.S. Efforts to Foster Free and Independent Media Around the World was a first-of-its-kind look at the media development field as a whole. This comprehensive report provides an in-depth assessment of U.S. international media development efforts, both public and private, and calls on future efforts to be more long-term, comprehensive, and need-driven. Recommending a more holistic approach, the report looks at the international media development field from a number of perspectives: funding, professional development, education, the legal-enabling environment, economic sustainability, media literacy, new media, and monitoring and evaluation.
According to the report, media assistance is increasingly being regarded as a fundamental building block in developing democratic states. These efforts can help countries make democratic transitions, spur economic growth, improve government accountability, conduct public health campaigns, increase education and literacy levels, and empower women and minorities.
The report’s recommendations include: establishing media development as its own sector of international assistance rather than only as a part of other development efforts as is the current trend; taking longer-term approaches to projects; engaging the local media community more in project design and implementation; improving journalists’ professional skills and ethical standards; providing greater support to improve the legal-enabling environment; emphasizing media literacy; building stronger media management skills; integrating new technology; refining monitoring and evaluation methods; improving coordination among donors and implementers; and integrating communication for development strategies in overall media assistance efforts.
Raising the visibility of international media development and improving its effectiveness are core goals of the center. CIMA works to improve understanding of how free and independent media matter by hosting discussions and panels in addition to convening working groups and publishing reports.
These events are generally open to the public and range from panel discussions on topics such as new media or the status of media in a specific country to roundtable discussions featuring implementers, donors, academics, and government representatives. CIMA also organizes working groups, which are not open to the public, but instead invite a range of experts on an issue to have a substantive discussion and share their knowledge. The center also regularly holds events to launch its reports as well as relevant reports published by other organizations.
When CIMA recognizes a need in the media assistance field, it works to fill that gap. Toward this end, CIMA developed an online bibliographic database of media assistance resources. With over 900 books, articles, reports, and manuals, this database serves as an important resource for anyone interested in media development issues.
CIMA’s legal environment working group also noted the need for a centralized resource for media lawyers around the world. Following up on this idea, CIMA worked with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania to launch a Web site called Global Media Law. This site serves as a networking and information resource for anyone interested in media law issues around the world.