Using data to save independent media and boost democracy

By: Jeanne Bourgault & Jason Lambert
31 March 2022

At the conclusion of last year’s Summit for Democracy, the US White House announced a list of initiatives aimed at promoting democracy by supporting independent media. High on the list was a commitment to launch a Media Viability Accelerator (MVA).

The MVA will be led by a diverse coalition of media entrepreneurs from high- and low-income countries, ad agencies and technology companies, civil society groups and media freedom advocates, as well as foreign aid donor governments. It will identify ways to address systematic global market failures that have syphoned revenue from media enterprises, as well as provide useful resources and expertise to help individual media outlets become financially sustainable.

At its heart, the MVA will gather data relevant to media enterprises, including audience size and engagement, revenue potential of different business lines, regulatory risk models, and other information. Participating media outlets will provide this data (anonymised to protect privacy and competitiveness), and in turn benefit from the aggregate market intelligence. Technical experts will assist these outlets in putting this information to use, devising business plans that put them on a path to financial independence.

This kind of support – local market data, combined with hands-on business consultation – can have a transformative impact. Vijesti, a prominent news outlet in Montenegro, grew a major revenue line 400% in two months after receiving tailored business guidance informed by local market data.


April 1, 2022|Blog|