The global information ecosphere is facing a perfect storm, and as the year ends it is vital both to recognise the challenge and to celebrate those working to chart a way through it.
By Anthony Borden
IWPR FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Sharply polarised societies are roiled by partisan broadcasters and divisive social media, sustaining a culture of constant outrage and ensuring that rational, fact-based discourse is debased.Digitalisation has overturned old editorial gatekeeping, while the sector continues to haemorrhage income in the pandemic, causing the UN to warn of “media extinction event”.
Russia, China and other state and non-state actors orchestrate viral disinformation campaigns to fuel discord, skew elections, destabilise societies and instigate violence. Meantime, attacks on media continue with impunity, as dictators, populists and the corrupt on all continents harass, imprison and assassinate journalists without fear of reprisal.
Against this deluge, there are signs of fightback. President Biden has thrown US leadership behind significant initiatives to support media sustainability. The Nobel Peace Prize was for the first time since 1935 awarded for journalism, with Maria Ressa from the Philippines calling for a “shift [in] social priorities to rebuild journalism for the 21st century”.
Journalists around the world are fighting to uphold the principles of honest reporting. And through IWPR projects around the world, local voices are making themselves heard – distinguishing facts from lies and engaging with communities to highlight both challenges and solutions.
In Syria we supported the creation of online archives of atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State extremists, contributing directly to several prosecutions.
We have trained, mentoring and supported hundreds of journalists working in the most challenging of circumstances, from Ukraine to Iraq, from Myanmar to Vietnam. In Africa, the Middle East and Asia we aided networks of grassroots reporters to combat Covid-19 disinformation and provide reliable information for local communities.
These and other projects across more than 30 countries provide not only better information but incredible inspiration. They fuel our own commitment to support courageous journalists with ideas, with training and with financial assistance.
We call it giving voice, driving change, and in these times it is more important than ever. We are incredibly grateful for all those who have supported us, and we encourage others to join us again this year, as we mobilise critical resources for this vital mission.
Bosnia: The Town That Resisted Ethnic Division
Despite nationalist politics elsewhere, residents refuse to be divided along ethnic lines.
By Merdijana Sadović
IWPR WESTERN BALKANS REGIONAL DIRECTOR
“Our Bosniak and Croat children spend breaks together, they go to school trips together, they attend extracurricular activities together. So, there is no segregation like in some other parts of the country.”
Vareš school principal
Alarm Raised Over Child Suicide in Kyrgyzstan
The problem predates the pandemic, but coronavirus restrictions have exacerbated it.
"Normalisation is just that: a mere first step and not reconciliation or rapprochement."
A six-part podcast series produced by IWPR tells the story of the Covid-19 pandemic from an African perspective, taking in fake news, conspiracy theories and bogus cures.