USAID Closes Successful Investigative Journalism Program

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USAID in Bosnia and Herzegovina sponsored the closing conference of its Independent Media Empowerment Project on April 7, 2022
James Reindl

Prepares to Open Two New Media Projects in BiH and Western Balkans

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
James Reindl
+38762889137

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo – Independent media in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been strengthened over the past five years through financial, legal, and training assistance under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Independent Media Empowerment Program (IMEP), which held its closing conference today.

More than 100 media practitioners from across the country gathered at the closing conference in Sarajevo to discuss current challenges to media freedom and to hear that USAID will be launching two new media projects in BiH and the Balkans.

IMEP, implemented by local NGO Center for Civil Society Promotion, was a five-year, $5-million activity. The activity financed more than 170 media grants, empowered nearly 100 citizen journalists, and strengthened relationships between selected media outlets and NGOs. IMEP funding helped produce more than 3,500 media pieces, more than half targeting political affairs and corruption. Finally, the program offered legal support in more than 30 media cases.

“An independent media is a pillar of a free and open democracy,” said USAID Mission Director Courtney Chubb. “The United States fiercely defends and supports freedom of the press and free expression. IMEP achieved great success in its five years and we look forward to our new media programs building on those results.”

Despite support from the United States and others, the media landscape in BiH remains challenging. Reporters without Borders ranked BiH 58th out of 180 countries in media freedom in the group’s 2021 report, noting that the polarized climate, verbal attacks, and nationalistic rhetoric create “a hostile environment” for press freedom. Meanwhile, Freedom House, which tracks global democracy trends, called BiH only “partly free” in its 2021 rankings. That label is due in part to the continued endangerment of press freedom in BiH from issues such as a lack of transparency in media ownership, attacks on journalists, pandemic-related social media free speech restrictions, and issues with the three public broadcasters in BiH.

The IMEP closure coincides with the launch of the new USAID Media Engagement Activity, a five-year $10-million project implemented by FHI 360 in partnership with Internews network and the BIH Journalist Association, to provide a select group of media outlets in BiH with the tools, training, and small grant resources to improve the overall information space in BiH. USAID also is launching a new regional Balkan Media Assistance Project that will make media practitioners in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia more competitive in the local and regional marketplace and strengthen the sustainability of independent media across the region.

Last updated: August 04, 2022

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