The Women Effect in Independent Media: Tough Entrepreneurs in Tough Environments

downloadEditor’s note: The Women Effect in Independent Media series highlights women in media building commercially viable, independent, news businesses in environments hostile to the press.

Released in recognition of World Press Freedom Day, ImpactAlpha and the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) presented the series in three parts.

 For more on MDIF, see “Banking on a Free Press.”

Earlier this month, a groundbreaking expose revealed the widespread human and environmental toll caused by World Bank-financed projects around the world. But for award-winning Peruvian journalist Mabel Cáceres, the report's revelations about disruptive mines in Peru are not new.

The report, from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ), and a team of global news organizations, profiled the Yanacocha gold mine, a sprawling World Bank project in Peru, that local communities have called economically exploitive and environmentally destructive. “The gold they take out of our region is stained with blood,” a local movement leader says in the report.

The newspaper Cáceres founded in 2000 has been reporting on the Arequipa community’s discontent with Peru’s Tía María copper mine for years. Unfortunately for other communities without an outlet to share their voice, the path Cáceres blazed as an independent journalist, and even more so as a female one, is fraught with intimidation, defamation, and too often, death.

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Freedom House 2015

World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on May 3rd, provides a moment to assess the state of the press. To the detriment of economic, political, and social progress, the world’s press is less free today than a decade ago. In fact, only one in seven people now live in country with a free press. Women continue to be underrepresented in media ownership, in executive-level roles, and as journalists.

Yet pioneering women like Cáceres are founding and leading news businesses. ImpactAlpha and Media Development Investment Fund have teamed up to highlight women founders and leaders of media companies within MDIF’s portfolio. Over the following weeks the two organizations will bring to you The Women Effect in Independent Media Series.

The Women Effect in Independent Media Series will profile three women, on three continents, who highlight the challenges, and potential, of building editorial independent news companies in hostile press environments. They’ve crowdsourced start-up cash and gathered grants, raised private capital, and built commercially viable businesses. They’ve built strong, courageous, and diverse teams. They are conscious of, but have been able to shatter the glass ceiling created by, gender bias in the media, through partnership, professionalism, and hard work.

“Journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues – from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peacebuilding,” say UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokava. “Only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions can good governance exist.”

Digital technology is disrupting established media businesses. Savvy media startups in growing markets can be viable, scalable and highly profitable. Independent media contributes to more open, resilient societies with better environments for innovation and entrepreneurship. The women effect may be just the factor that makes independent media in frontier markets a compelling impact investment opportunity.

More From the Women Effect in Independent Media Series

The Women Effect in Independent Media Series highlights women in media building commercially viable, independent, news businesses in environments hostile to the press.

Introduction: The Women Effect in Independent Media Series

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Part I: Natasa Tesanovic’s TV business is helping rebuild Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Part II: Mabel Cáceres' digital magazine is giving Peruvians a voice

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Part III: Chia Ting Ting is strengthening independent media in Malaysia through innovations in advertising

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