Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2011

Continental Shift: New Trends in Private U.S. Funding for Media Development

Anne Nelson

December 2011

National Endowment for Democracy


The field of private sector funding of independent media abroad has continued to undergo a massive upheaval over the past two years. Two major factors have driven the change. The first is economic: The 2008 recession sharply reduced the portfolios of most traditional foundations and media philanthropies, many of them by 20-30 percent. They were still recovering when the aftershock of 2011 struck. These institutions, many of them based on the East Coast, had formerly led the way in funding international media development activities, with an emphasis on journalism training and support for freedom of expression. Now they are in a period of retrenchment, struggling to maintain existing commitments and with few resources to pursue new initiatives.