What we do has everything to do with what we want to achieve. Logical. Therefore, our work is always governed by one of our three intermediate goals. In 9 stories you can read how we put that into practice and what the results are. You will also receive an update on the 3 largest Free Press Unlimited programmes. We provide you with an insight into how we influence policy and how we promote gender equality and safety. But first we will explain exactly why we choose these activities.
You can find more information on our three intermediate goals in Our approach.
Why we do what we do
Three things are essential to guaranteeing that media and journalists are able to fulfill their important social role. These are the 3 ‘intermediate goals’ that we want to achieve. All our projects contribute to one or more of these goals.
1. An environment that allows journalists to do their work and that promotes freedom of expression.
To achieve this goal, Free Press Unlimited is committed to fighting for good legislation and against impunity that perpetuates crimes against journalists. In the countries in which we work, professional media representatives play a key role; that is why Free Press Unlimited invests in targeted training for these groups. They keep track of how often and where press freedom is compromised and stand up against specific cases of press freedom violation.
Furthermore, such a well-established civil society can convince governments, police and the judiciary, of the great importance of press freedom. After all, not all the powers that be act out of malice: often they do not even know what the international agreements and standards are for press freedom. Public pressure and a strong (international) lobby enables them to gain other insights. This improves the environment in which journalists work – so they can provide their audience with information without the threat of random arrest or abuse. An environment where people can freely exchange information and where their voice is heard, is an important foundation for a democratic society.
How it works in practice: Somalian police receive a lesson in in press freedom
Journalism is a dangerous profession in Somalia and Somaliland. If the religious extremists do not have it in for you, then it’s the government institutions, the police, or mercenaries working for private individuals, who do not welcome your publications. Here, safety training is not a superfluous luxury; the training that one of our partners in Somaliland organised for police officers, judges and journalists, significantly contributed to an improvement of the situation. What did the partner do? Explained why the work of journalists is so important and what the law has to say about it. A great eyeopener for most of the attendees, who were accustomed to indiscriminately arresting journalists immediately a politician or dignitary demanded it. As a result of the training, the number of random arrests of journalists dropped significantly. Now, police officers are more likely to critically question those giving them orders, and now judges investigate whether an arrest is in accordance with the law.
2. Media and journalists serve the interests of the population, are the voice of citizens and act as their watchdog.
If we want to achieve this, media and civil society organisations must find common ground. Free Press Unlimited brings them together, in this way media learn which themes concern citizens, and citizens regain their trust in the media. Media must reflect their society. That is why we help them increase the diversity in their own organisations and in their publications, particularly when it comes to women. Free Press Unlimited also supports social organisations that raise people’s media-awareness and help them sift through the overwhelming amount of information. Independent media should bring corruption and abuse of power to light and be the watchdog for disadvantaged groups. Thanks to research and the revelations of the media, citizens hold their own governments accountable. In this way, media and citizens increase the democratic content of their society together.
How it works in practice: Nepalese radios stand up for girls
In Nepal our media partners and social organisations are increasingly joining forces. At schools and in community centres, a partner regularly organises viewings of the children’s news programme Naya Pusta. Local radios like Sagarmatha, that produces Naya Pusta, are increasingly able to fulfil their watchdog role for disadvantaged groups in Nepal. They receive tips from social organisations on issues such as child marriage, trafficking in women and domestic violence. Sagarmatha also produces the popular soap Mitini about child marriage and the benefit of education for girls. As a result of a radio broadcast about a 13-year-old girl who was forced to take care of her family, a community leader immediately organised a fundraising campaign to help her claim government assistance. And a teacher who used corporal punishment on his pupils, was fired on local radio after a broadcast.
3. Journalists and media are professional, effective and confident of their continued existence.
Free Press Unlimited insists on the importance of professionalism for media and journalists. They must comply with internationally recognized standards and ethical codes, to earn and keep the trust of their audience. Knowledge of modern technology is also essential in a world where mobile phones and social media play a major role. Journalists need to know how they can work safely (digitally), so they can properly fulfil their watchdog role. Free Press Unlimited supports partners worldwide to work professionally and (therefore) safely. And to make them financially independent, so that their continued existence – and therefore a diverse media landscape – is also guaranteed in the long term.
How it works in practice: Pakistani citizen journalists put their region on the map
Local media can make a difference for disadvantaged groups who cannot go to the authorities with their problems and complaints. But what if there are hardly any local media? That is the situation in the Pakistani regions where Free Press Unlimited works. In the No News is Bad News programme we successfully encourage national to take responsibility for reporting from these ‘medialess’ areas. In five of the regions, networks of citizen journalists, trained in investigative journalism, have been established. They regularly deliver stories, 15 of which have led to government action being taken. Leading national media have committed to publishing stories like this a few times a week. Conversely, this project provides media partners operating nationally with much more understanding of what is happening locally and readers from ‘medialess’ increasingly approach them with tips for stories.