March 2021
Report from the meeting of the Joint Coordination Mechanism for Lebanon held on 16 March 2021.

Media Sustainability in Lebanon

March 16, 2021

The second meeting of the Joint Coordination Mechanism for media assistance in Lebanon.

  • A report of the first meeting can be found here.
  • Background about the Joint Coordination Mechanism for media assistance in Lebanon can be found here.
  • A literature review of relevant resources is available here:
This meeting report has three sections:
Joint Coordination Mechanism: An update about the Joint Coordination Mechanism for Lebanon from GFMD, IMS and SKeyes.
Media sustainability in Lebanon: A summary of a presentation of GFMD’s snapshot research into media sustainability in Lebanon.
Highlights from a discussion with Lebanese media on business models and sustainability can be found here:

Attendance

  • 7 representatives of donor organisations
  • 18 representatives of international media assistance organisations
  • 5 representatives of regional or Lebanese media assistance organisations
  • 10 representatives from Lebanese media
  • 1 academia representative

Joint Coordination Mechanism for Lebanon

The co-organisers of the meeting- Mira Milosevic, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), Michael Irving Jensen, International Media Support (IMS), and Ayman Mhanna, SKeyes Centre - provided an overview of the Joint Coordination Mechanism for Lebanon initiative.
Both GFMD and IMS reaffirmed their commitment to support local partners, coordination efforts, and attempts to drive donor support for journalism in Lebanon.
SKeyes emphasised that the coordination mechanism initiative is an opportunity to discuss the future of the Lebanese media sector beyond the various emergencies facing the country.

GFMD

Mira Milosevic said that it was a pleasure to support a local coordination process that was driving international and national support for journalism in Lebanon.
Milosevic also spoke about the importance of learning, experience and knowledge sharing and the need to create safe, neutral and space spaces for conversations between donors, media development and journalism support partners.
She invited media development actors and researchers working in Lebanon to participate in the GFMD International Media Policy and Advisory Centre (IMPACT) - an initiative that aims to be an umbrella and platform for these processes.
Sustainability - the main topic for this coordination meeting - will be discussed at future meetings of GFMD IMPACT.

IMS

Michael Irving Jensen said that over 15 to 18 years of working in the region IMS has developed a philosophy of listening to the partners to identify the needs and act accordingly.
The expectation from the coordination initiative is that it will lead to a discussion where development actors exchange information and attempt to align their activities so they can jointly deliver effective assistance to the media in Lebanon.

Lebanon Media Recovery Fund

For background about the Lebanon Media Recovery Fund, updates and next steps go to:
Ayman Mhanna (SKeyes) who is running the Media Recovery Fund, told the meeting that the fund has responded to the direct needs of media and journalists and allowed Lebanese media and individual journalists to focus on producing quality content.
He emphasised that improving investigative journalism in Lebanon is at the core of the Media Recovery Fund.
“You have seen some very significant headway that the media has done while our police and law enforcement and justice are just busy scoring political gains when it comes to the port explosion. The real breakthrough has come from the media.”
As of March 2020, $346,000 (approx. 40%) of the funds dedicated to the Media Recovery Fund had been spent.
The full breakdown of how funds have been spent is available here.

Next steps for the Media Recovery Fund

Psychosocial support

Mhanna announced a series of workshops on psychosocial resilience for Lebanese and international journalists covering Lebanon. The workshops will be held in partnership with the Dart Centre in New York at Columbia University, the largest centre dedicated to trauma for journalists.

Investigative journalism

Nearly $166,000 has been committed to supporting journalists investigating some of the most sensitive issues in Lebanon.

Supporting media start-ups

Independent media start-ups were urged to apply to the Media Recovery Fund for equipment and other costs to enable them to direct their existing funds to content production.

Next steps for supporting media in Lebanon

The meeting heard various perspectives on how to avoid some of the common challenges and pitfalls when it comes to media assistance:
  • International media assistance agendas not being in line with the priorities of the media they are trying to support.
  • Providing training and capacity building initiatives are not based on realities or actual needs.
  • How to create institutional memory - about business models and sustainability for example - within media outlets and the wider ecosystem that outlasts the individuals that work there.
One of the international media development organisations attending the meeting expressed optimism that the ongoing coordination efforts would lead to major development actors better aligning their programmes to jointly deliver media assistance in ways that are relevant and pertinent to the Lebanese context.

Coordination and funding

One of the donors taking part in the meeting;
  • Praised the speed at which the Media Recovery Fund was established and assistance mobilised so swiftly after the explosion in August 2020;
  • Noted that the ongoing coordination initiative was an opportunity to align the work of donors to maximise what can be done collectively for the benefit of partners in Lebanon;
  • Described the preparedness of donors to offer core support, be flexible and trust partners to take advantage of opportunities and define their own priorities as a “duty”;
  • Agreed with participants who said donors should prioritise support that helps media remain viable through future economic shocks.

Journalist’s safety

Donors emphasised that - it is important to protect the individuals who are putting themselves at risk and enable them to continue reporting.
When it comes to impunity for attacks on journalists and activists (such as the Lokman Slim assassination in February 2021), donors said there is an opportunity to coordinate activities around such cases and defend the relative freedoms that Lebanon enjoys compares to other countries in the region.

Engaging the Lebanese diaspora

Donors also welcomed the fact that Lebanese media were engaging with the diaspora and asked how their interest in the role of journalism to hold the powerful and rights-bearers to account could be harnessed.

Media sustainability in Lebanon snapshot research

In preparation for the meeting, GFMD conducted a snapshot research project to better understand what sustainability (or viability) means in the Lebanese context.
The snapshot report attempts to provide some insights into what effective media development interventions aiming to improve the sustainability or viability of news media might look like.
Read about the methodology for the report here.

The main findings of the report

  1. 1.
    Sustainability is not guaranteed - no media flourishing and existing today can claim that they will exist in five years unless they are funded or run through a foundation or funded by the state.
  2. 2.
    Incorporating sustainability into business planning and strategy is a must for every media organisation or anyone providing media assistance.
  3. 3.
    Building commercial arms of media organisations is a successful approach in some circumstances.
  4. 4.
    Trainers and mentors should know the Lebanese context. Engaging experts and trainers from the region could potentially help sustainability efforts become more effective.
  5. 5.
    Regional cooperation and networking could lead to sustainability through experience and knowledge sharing and joint initiatives.
  6. 6.
    Selling content can contribute to revenues and sustainability.
  7. 7.
    Donors that provide media assistance should consider allocating more core funding to media and local media support groups as this alleviates the need for constant fundraising and enables media to focus on producing content and strategic planning.
  8. 8.
    Long term strategic partnerships between donors and media and media support organisations have proven to be successful in building the capacity of media organisations and improving the potential of achieving sustainability.
In regard to point 4 above, a representative from an investigative journalism organisation, suggested creating a database of experienced Lebanese journalists and trainers so they can be hired more often to deliver training. They added:
“Unfortunately, those working for Gulf Media are often part of the political agendas of the governments funding them and do not are not often able to ‘walk their talk’ in front of their mentees…”
Full report findings are available here.

Lebanese media perspectives on media sustainability

After the results of the research were presented, representatives of Lebanese media commented on the research findings and discussed the strategies and business models they use to survive and achieve a level of sustainability.
The discussion included insights on:
Read the full report on the discussion on the next page.
Last modified 6mo ago