John Burgess, left,  Center for International Media Assistance, Washington, and Andrew Puddephatt, Global Partners, London, talk during a coffee break.

Cox Center Director Discusses Research Designs To Assess Impact of Media Assistance Projects

The director of the Cox International Center at the University of Georgia gave an overview of the research design used to evaluate a media project the Center conducted in the Philippines in 2005 and 2006 to a conference on media and development issues in Germany in October.

About 70 individuals involved in media assistance projects attended the three-day event, which was held at Katholisch-Sociales-Institut in Bad Honeff, near Bonn.

Becker told a special working group on the media’s role in conflict resolution that the Center analyzed the work of journalists before and after they participated in training workshops focused on techniques for conflict sensitive journalism.

For the first of the two workshops, held in Cebu in 2005, the researchers also looked at the work of a control group of journalists not involved in the workshop.

The research showed the training programs had little impact on the work of the journalists, Dr. Becker said, but it did help those journalists and others interested in media coverage of the ongoing conflict in the southern part of the Philippines understanding some of the basic characteristics of media coverage of the conflict.

The research showed that coverage of the conflict in Mindanao by the national media in Manila was more varied than journalists in Mindanao and in Manila believed. It also showed that coverage of the conflict by journalists on the scene was quite shallow, focusing mostly on the government sources to explain the conflict.

The Bad Honnef meeting, held from Oct. 12 to 14, centered on techniques for measuring the impact of media projects.

Those in attendance included funders of media assistant projects around the world as well as those who actually provide the media assistant programming.

Sheldon Himelfarb from the United States Institute of Peace in Washington outlined a technique for creating an inventory of resources available in a country before media assistance is delivered, while Rolf Paasch of the Freidrich-Ebert-Stiftung office in Namibia discussed an ongoing project to monitor the performance of media in Africa.

Anne-Katrin Armold summarized research on media impact generally in her presentation on behalf of the CommGap program at the World Bank.

The meeting was organized by the Catholic Media Council (CAMECO) based in Aachen in collaboration with nine other organizations.

Press Now, based in the Netherlands, organized the session at which Dr. Becker summarized the research project in the Philippines.

That project, funded by the United States Institute of Peace, was designed to help journalists in that country develop techniques for conflict sensitive journalism, that is, journalism that would help resolve conflicts rather than exacerbate them.