Media viability

There are multiple threats to the survival of independent media. The changing media market, government interference in the working of media, and the fact that media are often in the hands of conglomerates, are all affecting the ability of independent media outlets to earn revenue and conduct independent reporting.

Journalist at work in El Salvador
Photo: Riesgo Cruzado

Financial pressure

One of the biggest threats to the viability of the media is the intense financial pressure. Globally, business models have been eroded by the shift to digital news platforms, causing a loss of advertising revenues for traditional print and broadcast media to the big social media platforms. There is a huge supply of free news, overshadowing independent media. The economic impact of Covid-19 has intensified this financial pressure. 

Media capture

Another big threat for the viability of the media is media capture: when powerful public or private groups take premeditated actions to control media institutions. It happens when governments pressure the media by tightening regulations, give more public money to those loyal to them, or when oligarchic companies can purchase and control private media outlets. When large amounts of media organisations are owned by one single company, they are called conglomerates. Especially around elections, this is a means for repressive authorities to take control.


Protest after elections Belarus
Media in Belarus are under a lot of pressure from authorities, which increased during the 2020 elections and following protests. Belarus is part of the VIMES project. Photo:

Building resilience and viability

For a well functioning, independent media landscape, it is extremely important to give support to media viability. Worldwide Free Press Unlimited works together with local partners to improve their long term viability. We don’t just give financial support, our focus is always on growing independence. An example of this is the VIMES project which focuses on the deteriorating condition of independent media and journalists, especially women, in Central America and Eastern Europe. The participating media from eight different countries are under great political and economic pressure in their country. To strengthen their position in society, the media organisations share their experiences, knowledge and content with each other, facilitated by Free Press Unlimited.

Free Press Unlimited also makes information and tools available for media worldwide. Like the toolkit ‘Roadmap for Media Growth‘. This toolkit guides media through the important steps of business development and helps them pivot new ideas, and create a business model that works for them. In this process, they are supported by a coach.

For more information on this theme, please see our Business Development and Innovation resource guide.

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