The role of independent media in curbing corruption in fragile settings

 

International focus on tackling corruption is growing but most strategies deployed to curb it appear to be failing.  This report examines the evidence of what works and doesn’t.  It concludes that a free and independent media remains one of the most effective assets available but that it is increasingly endangered, especially in fragile states.

Publication date: September 2016

Author: James Deane

International concern is mounting about the growth in corruption, its effects for development prospects and whether current anti-corruption efforts are succeeding. A summit on the issue was convened in May 2016 in London by then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the communique from which committed support to “the role that the media, including investigative journalists, the business community, and civil society can play in complementing and reinforcing corruption reporting systems.”

This policy briefing examines the prospects for media being able to play that role, especially in fragile states. It concludes that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of media as an accountability actor continues to mount even when the performance of other anti-corruption measures are called into question.

It looks at the increasing pressures facing independent media in fragile states, especially those of political co-option and a reduction in media freedom. It suggests that these pressures are intensifying precisely because media is so effective at holding power to account and exposing corruption.

It argues that independent media need more attention from international development actors not only financially but also through their strategic focus and influence they can bring to bear to supporting media freedom. Without it, such media are likely to struggle to survive and corruption can be expected to increase.