Should Donors Support Investigative Reporting in Poor Countries?

March 10, 2010
The book Newsonomics by Ken Draper documents the decline of the “old media” and opines on the negative impact such a decline will have on the quality of American political discourse.  It seems to me that the collapse of the old media is also a development issue.  In poor countries, perhaps more than in rich ones, both democracy and good governance depend on the availability of independent information about the government’s behavior.  In the past, such information has come both directly from rich country journalists (the BBC and the VOA) and also from their own press  which, if it is independent, can reprint investigative articles from rich country journalists and, if it is financially healthy, can do its own investigative reporting.  So the collapse of the old media in the rich countries raises the following questions:  How does the atrophy of rich country journalism affect the development process?  Does the decline of rich country journalism have a “knock-on” effect on poor country journalism?  Is there an argument for donor programs to strengthen investigative reporting in poor countries?


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