Media development organisations

There are many local, national, and international organisations active in the media development sector. The challenge over the past couple of decades has been consistency. Journalists have fled Somalia, others have been killed, and many simply pass through being ‘journalists’ for a short period of time. While media outlets have become progressively institutionalised over the last 10 years, there is a legacy of ‘warlord’ radio that has continued to influence the sector, where many media outlets are tied to particular conflict groups, businesspeople, or politicians, and the media itself has had a strong role as a conflict actor. While radios were the most prevalent in this sector, particularly in the 1990s, satellite television stations also grew, often beamed in from diaspora communities.

One of the challenges in this sector is the lack of institutional memory and weak donor coordination, possibly caused by the high turnover of staff in international agencies (although there have been some efforts to address this such as UNESCO’s coordinating group in Nairobi). International organisations that are, or have been, particularly active in this sector in Somalia include the BBC Media Action, IREX, Press Now, Vikes, National Endowment for Democracy, and the UN. Additionally, for profit companies have also entered the media development space including Albany Associates, Integrity, Coffey International, and Bell Pottinger (until it was dissolved). Many initiatives are repeated, and it is not always clear who is being trained and for what purpose. Much of the media operates for political or economic objectives and has diverse agendas for participating in international training (Stremlau, Fantini, and Osman 2016).

Local organisations, or associations, providing media assistance or claiming to act on behalf of journalists, are often highly politicized leading to internal divisions and fragmentation. Some of the major journalists’ associations include: the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Somali Women Journalist Association (SOWJA), Media Association of Puntland, and Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA). As with all activities in Somalia, some Associations attempt to work across the country while others are regionally based. While some international organisations run training programmes at media outlets, or through associations, there are degree or certificate programmes at private universities, although they are not always accredited.