Media Freedom Coalition requires a 're-injection of energy'

Published by  News Archive

On 9th Feb 2022

Image of a blue vest with 'Press' on it and a pair of handcuffs
Getty Images

A new report evaluating the first two years of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) calls for a re-injection of energy and funds.

The MFC is a partnership, established in 2019 by the UK and Canada, of 50 countries working together to advocate for media freedom and the safety of journalists. 

The report’s publication is supported by the Foreign Policy Centre, and it is launched today at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in Tallinn, Estonia. Co-authored by a team of six academics and researchers, from the University of East Anglia (UEA), City, University of London and University of the Philippines-Diliman, and poses one central question: is the Media Freedom Coalition working? 

“Our assessment is that the MFC is only partially achieving its objectives,” said co-author Dr Martin Scott, of UEA’s School of International Development. “It has taken some positive steps towards its ambitious goals including attracting a relatively large membership and establishing collegiate ways of working. 

“However, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the actions of the MFC have not been as rapid, bold or visible as was initially promised.”

The report concludes that MFC requires a ‘re-set’ and ‘re-injection of energy and funds’ in the next two to three years if it is to achieve its original aims, and provides a scorecard and recommendations to support future development. 

“The objective of our report was to identify key areas for improvement to strengthen the MFC’s work moving forward, as such, we hope members of the MFC will take on board our findings and adopt our recommendations,” added lead author Dr Mary Myers.

Evaluating the MFC
The evaluation report’s findings are based on over 100 interviews with relevant stakeholders; analyses of news coverage, social media commentary and public statements; and a survey of media freedom campaigners – as well as detailed case studies in Sudan and the Philippines. The research team assessed the MFC against its own pledges to: 

•    Promote accountability by ‘raising the cost’ to those who abuse or violate media freedom; 
•    Hold its own members to account over media freedom violations;
•    Work together as a coalition, expand the membership and collaborate with partners (including the Consultative Network, UNESCO and the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom; 
•    ‘Shine a spotlight’ on the issue of media freedom by raising awareness of it; and
•    Develop and defend the media by providing practical support to independent media around the world. 

The report finds that the Coalition had some early successes. Several states – such as the Maldives and Sierra Leone – have made positive improvements domestically, as a direct result of joining the MFC and there have been several instances of successful private diplomacy by Coalition members working together. However, according to Dr Scott, “its working methods have been slow and lacking transparency, its communications poor, and its financial commitments small”. 

The evaluation was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK and the Global Challenges Research Fund. The FPC did not participate in, or contribute to, the evaluation of the MFC, but has supported the report’s publication through its Unsafe for Scrutiny project, which is funded by the Justice for Journalists Foundation. 

Further information about the wider research project this is part of is available at 

Latest News

Prof David Maguire
27 Mar 2023

University of East Anglia appoints new Vice-Chancellor

UEA is very pleased to announce that Professor David Maguire has been appointed as the University’s new Vice-Chancellor, joining in May 2023.

Read more >
A group of people in a meeting.
27 Mar 2023

INCREASE VS project helps thousands of people into employment and entrepreneurship

New research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that large infrastructure projects must also offer sustainable, local investment in deprived...

Read more >
A disabled child watches a video on a phone with an adult.
24 Mar 2023

More support needed for children with disabilities using the Internet

Children with disabilities need better support to manage their online lives and potential online risks, finds UEA researcher.

Read more >
A medical professional administering a Covid-19 vaccine.
23 Mar 2023

Vaccination halves risk of long Covid, largest study to date shows

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
A medical professional administering a Covid-19 vaccine.
23 Mar 2023

Vaccination halves risk of long Covid, largest study to date shows

Read more >
Sea defences on the coast of Ghana.
23 Mar 2023

Measuring impacts of climate change on heritage to be explored at conference

A major conference on coastal heritage loss due to climate change is taking place at the University of East Anglia next week.

Read more >
An injured man on the beach.
23 Mar 2023

Scientists warn of rise in potentially fatal bacterial infection due to global warming

Continued warming of the climate would see a rise in the number and spread of potentially fatal infections caused by bacteria found along parts of the coast of...

Read more >
A hand holding up a lightbulb with a graduation cap on, green background
22 Mar 2023

Success for UEA in QS World University Rankings

UEA has ranked in the top tier of universities worldwide in a number of areas in the QS World University Rankings By Subject 2023, released Wednesday 22 March,...

Read more >
Spring Street Market L-R: floral prints, crafter birds, The Street with visitors, fruit and vegetables, jewellery stall
17 Mar 2023

Student and graduate businesses given chance to shine on campus at Spring Street Market

Held on Wednesday 15 March, the inaugural Spring Street Market was a bustling success for the University of East Anglia (UEA), with a high turnout of both stall...

Read more >
A trans man in a business meeting.
17 Mar 2023

Study highlights challenges facing transgender and non-binary workers

New research led by the University of East Anglia highlights some of the challenges that transgender and non-binary staff can face at work.

Read more >
A man holds a credit card as he types on a laptop.
28 Mar 2023

How repeated questions could put you at risk of cyber crime

People reveal more personal information when you ask them the same questions a second time – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Read more >