Communications and Society Program
Communications and Society Program
Journalism and Freedom of Expression
The Journalism and Freedom of Expression project is a comprehensive, multi-year project where prominent journalism professionals and other leaders address how various economic, social, and technological forces are affecting the news business and journalism profession on a global scale, and the implications of these trends for media freedom and responsibility around the world. Its purpose is to support the Ford Foundation's efforts (through the Foundation's Program on Media, Arts and Culture) to promote a healthy balance between the rights and responsibilities of journalism by identifying ways to strengthen professional commitments to high-quality journalism while also fostering greater freedom of expression for journalists on a global scale. Specifically, these meetings address how journalists and others can more effectively attain rights that are vital to freedom of the press while still adhering to principles of responsibility, fairness and accuracy.
Drawing on the Communications and Society Program's considerable capacity to convene diverse groups of leading thinkers and to structure dialogue for collaborative learning and decision-making, the project supports a series of activities to:
(1) examine the significant social, economic and technological forces impacting the practices of the news media and the quality of news coverage;
(2) develop strategies and mechanisms for strengthening values-based leadership and the vital role of the public as stakeholder in the news media;
(3) foster opportunities for domestic and international collaboration and cooperation among innovators in the field of journalism; and
(4) strengthen the capacity of individuals and organizations working under Ford Foundation grants to advance organizational learning and innovation.
The Project includes both domestic (United States-focused) and international journalism components.
Building Civil Society with Sustainable Media: Models and Options
September 9-12, 2002
"Building Civil Society with Sustainable Media: Models and Options" is intended to advance the development of interventions and strategies for supporting free and independent media. The meeting included key representatives from organizations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Americas whose work is supported by the Ford Foundation as well as other leaders from the media, civil society organizations, and foundation program officers from around the world. This is the third in a series of meetings convened by the C&S Program in partnership with the Ford Foundation. Specific conference goals included identifying the promising points of connection between efforts to support sustainable media and strengthen civil society; defining clear intermediate and long-term objectives for supporting sustainable media; and identifying, examining and designing viable funding models and interventions that would promote and sustain desirable media environments and strengthen civil society.
Democratic Enterprise: Sustaining Media and Civil Society, the report of the Third International Roundtable on Journalism and Freedom of Expression examines international perspectives on civil liberties and press freedom in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Authored by Craig L. LaMay, associate professor and former associate dean of the Northwestern University School of Journalism, the report questions certain assumptions made regarding the inevitability of a country’s march toward democracy and press freedom, including an interesting case study on “Democratization and Asian Values". The report considers a more pragmatic approach to journalism, media sustainability, and building civil society.
Strategies for Supporting Sustainable Media Pluralism
March 13-16, 2001
The conference discussions addressed the role of media pluralism in enhancing civic participation; identified what a desirable environment for media pluralism would look like; and identified and developed models that would promote and sustain desirable media systems and environments. These conversations took place through such discussions as: The Interplay of Influence: Media Ownership and Civic Participation; The Economics of Media Pluralism; Fostering Critical Understanding among Journalists and the Public; Developing a Sustainability Matrix; and Building Capacity to Meet Pluralism.
The questions confronting many nations transitioning from nondemocratic rule are whether their transitions are permanent or passing and what obstacles lie in the way of democratic consolidation. Sustaining Media Pluralism in Democratizing Societies explores the role of a pluralistic press as a means for sustaining civil society and democracy, and the difficulties of achieving a pluralistic press that is sustainable over time. Authored by Craig LaMay, associate dean of the Northwestern University School of Journalism, it is a coherent examination on how free and responsible media are supposed to sustain themselves particularly in countries facing a hostile legal or political regime on the one hand and the demands of the consumer marketplace on the other.
Principles and Practices of a Free and Responsible Press: Lessons from Societies in Conflict and Transition
May 30-June 1, 2000
The conference brought together, for the first time, key representatives of organizations supported by the Ford Foundation's international field offices in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America with foundation program officers and other journalists and leading thinkers.
The roundtable identified and developed strategies for building the capacity of individuals and organizations dedicated to the principles and practices of a free and responsible press. Participants identified the conditions necessary for freedom of expression to exist; examined the implications for journalists when those conditions are absent through an analysis of various case examples concerned with news media and societies in conflict or transitional situations; identifiedthe various socio-cultural, economic, technological, and political forces that can be turned from barriers into enablers; and identified the roles of the various stakeholders in enabling the conditions for freedom of expression, and vibrant, independent journalism to flourish.
Journalism and Emerging Democracy: Lessons from Societies in Transition by Craig L. LaMay offers a report of the conference findings.