We have seen multiple global crises over the past few years, including the Covid-19 pandemic. The world has never been more aware of the life-saving power of information.
Yet, independent, trustworthy journalism is under threat. The traditional business models and financial viability of the media sector now face serious challenges, not least by the rise of giant internet companies. In this context, the importance of media viability was recognised in the Windhoek+30 Declaration on Information as a Public Good. The Windhoek+30 Declaration was adopted at World Press Freedom Day in 2021 and its principles endorsed by UNESCO’s 193 Member States.
In order to address media viability challenges, however, we must first understand them. To this end, UNESCO commissioned Economist Impact to produce original research, which resulted in this publication and also contributed to the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development – Global Report 2021/2022 (World Trends Report).
The 10 country case studies presented in this report give insight into media viability around the world. These countries were selected on the basis of their diversity: in size, population, language, market structure, and legal environments around freedom of expression and access to information. And just as their contexts exhibit a diversity of experiences and challenges to financial viability, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic varies from one region, country and outlet to the next.
The findings outlined in this report confirm that media outlets in low- and middle-income countries have been the most severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a rate of decline almost two times faster than the global average.