A man stands with his arm upraised, several people stand behind him.
Opinion

2019 and the Issue of Our Time

January 14, 2019

I welcome 2019 with gratitude for the many supporters who make our work at Internews possible.

The role of media and information in shaping our world is the issue of our time. And often, it seems there’s no good news in this space. Repressive governments are restricting citizens’ access to information. Threats, attacks, and policy clampdowns are making it harder and harder for journalists to do their jobs.

But I welcome the new year with confidence, knowing that our work is not only more necessary than ever; it is making a real difference. Last year, in more than 60 countries, we supported more than 1,000 local partners.. That work strengthens, piece by piece, the information ecosystem that makes it possible for people everywhere to access quality, trusted, local information.

And we are having an impact.

In India, we worked with Google to train hundreds of journalists in tools to identify misinformation. This cadre have proudly dubbed themselves #VerificationNinjas and #TruthWarriors, and have gone on to train thousands more across the country.

In East Africa, our Safe Sisters fellows – women leaders who were novices to online tech before being mentored by Internews – launched several new, local organizations focused on digital security and committed to ensuring that more women in the region are able to access online information safely.

And in Pakistan, an Internews trainee won the country’s highest award in data journalism and wrote to say “I couldn’t have done this without Internews.”  Each year Internews trains and mentors nearly 10,000 journalists and digital activists around the world, bolstering both their individual careers and transforming the organizations in which they work.

Our commitment to this work doesn’t waver. Even in these challenging times, I find hope in the places that, despite the odds, are opening and changing.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day events will be held in Ethiopia – an event that would be unthinkable just a few years ago. In Afghanistan, despite increased violence against journalists, the Asia Foundation reports that local media remains the most trusted institution in Afghanistan outside of religious leaders. Our dedicated, brave, and resilient partners in Afghanistan have worked to build this trust.

This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. Our work supports not only individual journalists, but the business models, the legal frameworks, and the technical tools needed to preserve the power of information in free societies.

I thank you again for your continued support, and invite you to become more involved with Internews in the coming year. Share our message, learn about the ways to strengthen independent news sources, and join us in our commitment to progress.

(Banner image: Since 2017, 15,000 solar-powered radios have been distributed throughout South Sudan by Internews’ partner The Radio Community under the USAID-funded i-STREAM (Strengthening Free and Independent Media in South Sudan) project. Credit Internews)