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Media Sustainability Index

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Media Sustainability Index

Summary: International Research and Exchanges (IREX) Board prepared the Media Sustainability Index (MSI) in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a tool to assess the development of media systems over time and across countries.

Main Points: IREX staff, USAID, and other media-development professionals contributed to the development of the MSI. The MSI assesses five "objectives" in shaping a successful media system.

Objective #1: Legal and social norms protect and promote free speech and access to public information, with following indicators:

1. Legal and social protections of free speech exist and are enforced.

2. Licensing or registration of broadcast media protects a public interest and is fair, competitive, and apolitical.

3. Market entry and tax structure for media are fair and comparable to other industries.

4. Crimes against media professionals, citizen reporters, and media outlets are prosecuted vigorously, but occurrences of such crimes are rare.

5. The law protects the editorial independence of state or public media.

6. Libel is a civil law issue; public officials are held to higher standards, and offended parties must prove falsity and malice.

7. Public information is easily available; right of access to information is equally enforced for all media, journalists, and citizens.

8. Media outlets' access to and use of local and international news and news sources is not restricted by law.

9. Entry into the journalism profession is free and government imposes no licensing, restrictions, or special rights for journalists.

Objective #2: Journalism meets professional standards of quality, with following indicators:

1. Reporting is fair, objective, and well sourced.

2. Journalists follow recognized and accepted ethical standards.

3. Journalists and editors do not practice self-censorship. 

4. Journalists cover key events and issues.

5. Pay levels for journalists and other media professionals are sufficiently high to discourage corruption and retain qualified personnel within the media profession.

6. Entertainment programming does not eclipse news and information programming.

7. Technical facilities and equipment for gathering, producing, and distributing news are modern and efficient.

8. Quality niche reporting and programming exists (investigative, economics/business, local, political).

Objective #3: Multiple news sources provide citizens with reliable, objective news, with following indicators:

1. Plurality of public and private news sources (e.g., print, broadcast, Internet, mobile) exist and offer multiple viewpoints.

2. Citizens' access to domestic or international media is not restricted by law, economics, or other means.

3. State of public media reflect the views of the political spectrum, are nonpartisan, and serve the public interest.

4. Independent news agencies gather and distribute news for media outlets.

5.Private media produce their own news.

6.Transparency of media ownership allows consumers to judge the objectivity of news; media ownership is not concentrated in a few conglomerates.

7. A broad spectrum of social interests are reflected and represented in the media, including minority-language information sources.

8. The media provide news coverage and information about local, national, and international issues.

Objective #4: Media are well-managed enterprises, allowing editorial independence, with following indicators:

1.Media outlets operate as efficient and self-sustaining enterprises.

2. Media receive revenue from a multitude of sources.

3. Advertising agencies and related industries support an advertising market.

4.Advertising revenue as a percentage of total revenue is in line with accepted standards.

5. Government subsidies and advertising are distributed fairly, governed by law, and neither subvert editorial independence nor distort the market.

6.Market research is used to formulate strategic plans, enhance advertising revenue, and tailor the product to the needs and interests of the audience.

7. Broadcast ratings, circulation figures, and Internet statistics are reliably and independently produced.

Objective #5: Supporting Institutions function in the professional interests of independent media, with following indicators:

1. Trade associations represent the interests of media owners and managers and provide member services.

2. Professional associations work to protect journalists' rights and promote quality journalism.

3. NGOs support free speech and independent media.

4. Quality journalism degree programs exist providing substantial practical experience.

5. Short-term training and in-service training institutions and programs allow journalists to upgrade skills or acquire new skills.

6. Sources of media equipment, newsprint, and printing facilities are apolitical, not monopolized, and not restricted.

7. Channels of media distribution (kiosks, transmitters, cable, Internet, mobile) are apolitical, not monopolized, and not restricted.

8. Information and communication technology infrastructure sufficiently meets the needs of media and citizens.

The dataset covers global sample of countries.

Access to database:

Source: Media Sustainability Index (MSI) Methodology:

Page Created By:  Madina Junussova. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

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