Power, Media and Development: A Study of the Solomon Islands
Development donors spend millions of dollars a year on Media Development. Supporting the growth of a free and pluralistic media is being heralded as an integral part of working towards good governance and democracy in developing countries. It is seen as a technology transfer, apolitical and worthy. This research seeks to explore development donors’ use of Media Development as part of an overall stateVbuilding strategy. It has investigated this by looking at the history and contemporary experience of the growing Media Development sector. It has uncovered growing unease around the priorities of the programmes used in this area. There are charges that its religious adherence to the commercialised neoliberal model of media threatens to marginalise the poor. There are concerns that Media Development is seen by donors as a way of training the ‘watchdog’ to oversee the funds that they no longer have control over in the new aid modality. This research is grounded in the Solomon Islands where a relatively new local media is the subject of a Media Development programme. This is a country that wears the labels of a ‘least developed nation’ and, in the recent past, a ‘postVconflict country’ and a ‘failed state’. The thesis is an attempt to get a snapshot of the Solomon Islands’ media and its relationship with aid donors by exploring these ideas with journalists, civil society, the main media assistance programme, commentators, and villagers living outside of the capital of Honiara. While the majority of the contributors see a Western model of media as inevitable with globalisation, there would appear to be an appetite for conversations around a more indigenised media that engages more fully with the local reality. There is an identifiable gap in research in this area of Media Development as a donor tool.