Margaretha Geertsema-Sligh:

Report on Faculty Fellowship Activity

Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Global Justice

This report summarizes my Tutu Fellowship research project, titled “Women and Media Development: A Case Study of Internews.” Thanks to the Desmond Tutu Center I was able to conduct professional transcriptions of 21 hour-long interviews with the staff of Internews.

The first round of interviews was conducted in February 2016, during a visit to Washington, DC, to the Internews office. With permission from the Butler Institutional Review Board, I conducted 11 in-depth interviews with employees of Internews and also received names for people outside of the United States to interview. From March to July, I interviewed an additional 10 people over Skype in Afghanistan (1), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1), Kyrgyzstan (1), Liberia (1), South Africa (1), South Sudan (1), and Ukraine (4).

In the summer of 2016, I wrote a paper focusing on the gendered dimension of media development work at Internews. This paper was presented at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Leicester, England. Since then, I have written a second paper, in which I study changes in media development at Internews in the last 30 years. This paper has been submitted for consideration for the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in Chicago in August 2017. At Butler University, I have presented the results of my study twice at the College of Communication’s Works in Progress Series, as well as at a Lunch and Learn of the Desmond Tutu Center in Fall 2016. Over the summer, I am going to work on putting together a book-long manuscript for this project.

The first paper, “Gender and Media Development: A Case Study,” discusses challenges Internews faces in working to empower women journalists in transitional and developing countries. Results show that Internews wants to place more emphasis on the gendered aspect of media development but that in 2016, more focused efforts were just coming off the ground. Broadly speaking, challenges to women journalists in countries where Internews works include traditional cultures and religions that stereotype women, online and physical safety concerns, family responsibilities and the lack of women-friendly working environments, male-dominated newsroom cultures, and the feminization of the journalism profession.

The second paper, titled “Media Development Today,” studies changes in the field of media development in general through a case study of Internews. This paper examines how this organization’s approach to media development has evolved over the last 30 years, how employees understand the mission of the organization, and obstacles that make media development a challenging field. Results show that Internews has developed from a traditional media development organization in the 1980s to an organization that embraces the full “information ecosystem.” Employees understand the mission of Internews broadly as empowering local communities to give voice to citizens and communities. Some of the challenges experienced by the organization include threats to freedom of the press, restrictive cultural and social values, physical safety when working in conflict zones, economic difficulties, lack of education, problems with infrastructure, funding, measuring the impact of work done, changes in the media, information overload, and digital security threats such as online harassment.

I thank the Desmond Tutu Center for this fellowship and for helping me to make this research project possible.

Contact Us

Thoughts or Questions? We'd love to hear from you.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt