Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2012

The Medium versus the Message: U.S. Government Funding for Media in an Age of Disruption

Anne Nelson

June 2012

National Endowment for Democracy


Over the past four years, digital media have been transforming both the premises and the practices of U.S. government funding in media development. While Congress is cutting back on foreign aid budgets, resources to launch new digital media programs continue to grow. Media development professionals agree that some aspect of digital technology is now embedded in virtually every government-funded media project. Many highly technical programs, such as those addressing Internet security and circumvention, have proliferated. At the same time, traditional media development programs, including some that stress creation of quality content, face new challenges. These include geopolitical controversies and growing pressure to create metrics to prove quantitative results for qualitative missions.