MVA Enters New Phase

Microsoft Summit for Democray Event

The Media Viability Accelerator (MVA), a platform to support independent media worldwide, has entered a new phase with award of the three-year, $15 million USAID MVA Forward project in October.

Launched at the 2023 Summit for Democracy and currently under rapid development in a pilot phase, the MVA Forward program is funded by USAID and Microsoft and implemented by Internews and its partners. The public-private partnership is an investment in preserving independent media so that citizens can hold power to account, make informed decisions, and bolster democracy.

With technology build-out supported by Microsoft under its Democracy Forward Initiative, the MVA is a web-based platform that will help media outlets compete for audiences and revenues by accessing and tracking business, market, and audience data in their own markets, as well as by providing opportunities to learn from peers and tap into financial and technical support – both locally and globally.

The online tool is building toward launch in early 2024. The broader MVA Forward project will complement the technology with small grants targeted to independent media outlets addressing financial sustainability challenges and a Flexible Response Fund designed to address emergent needs.

More than 1000 journalists, editors, content producers, and other media makers have already registered interest in the MVA and hundreds have participated in surveys, consultations, and user experience testing with Internews and Microsoft to develop the MVA platform.

Joining Internews, key partners organizations in the pilot phase including Free Press for Eastern Europe, Free Press Unlimited, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), IREX, SembraMedia, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation have helped in outreach and development. Under the new project, they will continue to help guide the MVA and expand its reach and relevance, along with additional partners that join along the way.

Partner Insight:

The Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) is helping to create the MVA. collaboration, coordination, and collective action, GFMD creates, promotes, and delivers policies and programmes such as the Media Viability Accelerator to sustain journalism as a public good. We spoke with Tom Law, GFMD’s Deputy Director, about the challenges GFMD members and partners face and how the MVA can help.

A range of significant challenges facing news outlets today include the struggle to adapt to rapidly evolving digital media landscapes, to find sustainable revenue models in an era of declining traditional advertising, to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation, to maintain editorial independence and quality journalism amidst financial pressures, and to foster audience trust and engagement in an age of information overload.

Data and analytics tools have become essential for news outlets in today’s digital age as they offer invaluable insights into audience preferences, behaviours, and content consumption patterns. By harnessing data, news outlets can make informed editorial decisions, tailor content to their audience’s interests, and optimize their distribution strategies across various platforms.

We hope that the MVA will provide support, resources, and innovative strategies to empower news outlets to navigate these complex challenges and ensure their long-term viability in the changing media landscape.”