International Media Support supports freedom of press, as well as free and independent journalism in the Middle East and North Africa in cooperation with the Danish-Arab Partnership Program (DAPP). IMS has been working in the region since 2004. Along side local partners, IMS work to ensure that local media in countries affected by political crisis, or war and conflict, can provide people access to a critical press as an alternative to propaganda.
For IMS, it is important to ensure an independent press and free access to information, as all citizens can get involved in the community and contribute to changing their living conditions. In the Middle East, there is a particular focus on spreading freedom of speech and press, as well as creating good and critical journalism through, for example, progressive online media, investigative journalism networks and documentary film productions. There is a special focus on ensuring women better access to the media industry and better conditions in the industry – all possible with the support of DAPP.
Work by IMS in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region)
A few results from over the years:
- The podcast Eib (Shame) made by digital frontrunner SOWT is the number one Arabic podcast on iTunes after three seasons. Supported by DAPP, the podcast discusses taboo topics – divorce, reproductive health, gender-based violence and sexuality – as these affect the lives of ordinary people, giving listeners the anonymity they need to share their personal experiences of gender prejudices and discriminatory stereotypes, thus contributing to breaking down social barriers.
- Through IMS, DAPP has supported film projects on sexual and gender-based violence. Through ‘No Means No!’ The sensitive issue was first presented at the Carthage Film Festival in Tunis and included the screening of five IMS-supported documentaries followed by a panel debate. Drawing an audience of more than 2,000 people, the success of this event has inspired IMS to expand it to film festivals in Palestine and Morocco.
- Supported by DAPP, IMS’ partner in Morocco, the National Union of Young Journalists, has enhanced opportunities for 20 young journalists in news production and media leadership, helping them develop professional skills and deepen their understanding of the legal and business frameworks in which they operate.
- Local partners have received funding from DAPP through IMS to undertake in-depth investigative journalism in local areas of the Middle East. Notably, an Arabic-language documentary about arms smuggling in Yemen produced by Arab reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ)was aired across the region by Deutsche Welle in December 2018, and was later translated into German, Spanish and English – a measure of its high quality content and relevance for a broader audience. ARIJ investigations focus on issues such as corruption and abuse of power. Over the years, journalistic investigations have led to new legislation at local and national levels and brought politicians and businessmen to justice.
- Unprecedented in the Arab region: IMS partner the National Union for Tunisian Journalists and the Tunisian Government signed the first ever collective agreement recognizing the social, economic and moral rights of journalist – a significant advance in safeguarding media independence and freedom.
- The Cave, Tiny Souls, We Could be Heroes and Khartoum Offside The four titles are all documentary films that won regional and international awards. They illustrate daily life, struggle and the impact of the conflict on the civilian population. Documentary films from the region are scaling new heights and are being backed by DAPP’s support and Danish expertise.
IMS’ focus under the new DAPP programme from 2017 – 2021 will continue to be on bolstering independent media in the region and contributing to legislative reform to benefit the media and freedom of speech, and to enable the media to work professionally and in safety.