The Public Media Alliance is pleased to announce that the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) has become a partner for our regional consultation on the impacts of COVID-19 on media freedom, media business viability and journalists’ safety in Southeast Asia

ADN

Launched in 2013 and based in Seoul, South Korea with representatives in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand, the organisation’s core mission is to promote and defend democracy and human rights in Asia by bringing together a diverse group of civil society democracy advocates.

As a “network of networks”, ADN consists of members that are regional networks, which work on diverse themes under the umbrella of democracy. It has 11 network members and more than 300 national members.

ADN recently published an initial report that documented the state of media freedom in five countries in Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand. Research was conducted between November 2020 and March 2021 and identifies and addresses the key challenges facing media in these five countries, including newly introduced or amended “fake news” laws and the lack of protection for whistleblowers.

ADN promotes media freedom – a cornerstone of democracy – and aligns with PMA’s own mission to promote freedom of expression, and advocate for a free and independent, shared public media space.

Find out more about our project: The Impact of COVID-19 on Media Freedom, Media Business Viability and the Safety of Journalists in Southeast Asia

Both PMA and ADN believe that our UNESCO-IPDC supported project is very timely, relevant, and essential. As our local project partner, we are delighted that ADN will bring with them their breadth of contacts in, knowledge and expertise of the region that will be vital throughout every phase of the project. PMA looks forward to this collaboration.

On speaking about the PMA-ADN partnership and the importance of this project for the region, Ichal Supriadi, ADN’s Secretary General, said:

“In a time where media is severely under attack across the globe, threatening our very own democracy, it is timely that PMA, the largest global association of public media organisations, and ADN, the only regional network of civil society organizations advocating for democracy promotion in Asia, comes together in partnership.

Our partnership is vital in highlighting the serious threats to media freedom and creating the foundation of advocacy to combat the regression of democracy in the world. Through our partnership, we aim to encourage others to also join in unity to strengthen the efforts in protecting and defending fundamental freedoms for all.”


Meet our facilitators


Project Facilitator

TESS BACALLA

Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant, former Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Tess Bacalla is an award-winning journalist, editor, and media consultant based in the Philippines. She is currently the Project Lead and Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Democracy Chronicles, a region-wide initiative spearheaded by the Asia Democracy Network.

As a journalist, she has written on…

Tess Bacalla is an award-winning journalist, editor, and media consultant based in the Philippines. She is currently the Project Lead and Editor-in-Chief of the Asia Democracy Chronicles, a region-wide initiative spearheaded by the Asia Democracy Network.

As a journalist, she has written on issues ranging from public governance and corruption in government, to women, children, and migrant labour. She was previously media training director of the Philippine Press Institute, senior professorial lecturer of journalism in one of the top universities in Manila, regional editor for the Asia Pacific desk of the Inter Press Service, and editor of a regional news magazine in Hong Kong.

Tess has also edited books and other publications for institutions including John Wiley, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. She has also served as a project consultant to the World Bank and Asia Development Bank.

As a press freedom advocate, Tess has participated in numerous fora, online or otherwise, in different parts of Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the world. She has been a recipient of the Jaime V. Ongpin Excellence in Journalism Award (the Investigative category for her ground-breaking piece on corruption) and the Developing Asia Journalism Award (the Women and Development Category). She has also participated in regional and international media fellowships, including as a former fellow of the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Marshall McLuhan Fellowship in Canada.

On being one of two main project facilitators overseeing the project in its entirety, Tess said: “This project on the impact of COVID-19 on media freedom, media viability, and safety of journalists in Southeast Asia is a timely initiative that shines a light on some of the biggest issues confronting the media in the region, both in the time of coronavirus and even before the pandemic. The structural and systemic forces stoking these issues deserve more than a cursory look if a meaningful path forward is to be carved and democracy is to be strengthened or restored. The UNESCO -IPDC PMA-led project is therefore a step in the direction, and [I hope] to be instrumental in facilitating this process and achieving its goals.”


Project Facilitator

LAXMAN DATT PANT

Chairperson, Media Action Nepal

Mr. Pant is an internationally acclaimed media researcher, trainer, media rights advocate, and communications strategist. A Ph. D. Scholar in Media Ethics and Professionalism at the Infrastructure University, Malaysia, Pant holds extensive knowledge of the local, regional, and international media environment…

Mr. Pant is an internationally acclaimed media researcher, trainer, media rights advocate, and communications strategist. A Ph. D. Scholar in Media Ethics and Professionalism at the Infrastructure University, Malaysia, Pant holds extensive knowledge of the local, regional, and international media environment.

Pant is the South Asia Correspondent for DevelopmentAid, an author of more than a dozen books, and a visiting faculty of journalism in the universities of Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Finland, and Malaysia. He started his career as a journalist more than two decades ago and worked with numerous media institutions in different capacities, ranging from a reporter to an editor. Prior to founding MAN, he served as Head of Communications at UNESCO, Communications Specialist at UNDP, and has formulated dozens of media and communications strategies for national and international organisations.

Pant has contributed to numerous research articles and book chapters for national and international journals and anthologies on various media disciplines. He served as the Member of the Advisory Editorial Board/Author of IGI Global, USA, for titles including ‘Combating Threats to Media Freedom and Journalist Safety’ (2020) and ‘Discrimination, Gender Equality and Safety Risks in Journalism’ (2021). He was Co-editor and author for the research ‘Supporting Safety of Journalists in Nepal: An assessment based on UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicators’ (2016) published by UNESCO, Paris.

Pant was the Recipient of the 2020 International Communication Excellence Award.

As co-facilitator of the project, Pant stated: “The COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on both media operations and journalism practice. In addition to recommending ways for media viability in the SEA region amid the pandemic, this study aims to find out how the pandemic obstructed the free flow of information and challenged journalists’ safety. I inquisitively anticipate sharing our observation particularly on media viability from the diverse array of political, economic, and cultural systems that constitute a perspective to understand, operate and defend media in 11 countries across the region.”

OUR PROJECT SURVEY


As part of our UNESCO-supported project ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Media Freedom, Media Business Viability and the Safety of Journalists in Southeast Asia’, PMA and ADN have launched a questionnaire to gain valuable insights that will help to inform our research. The questionnaire is aimed at journalists, media practitioners and academics in the region.

Please click on the link below to access the survey. We do hope that you can find the time to participate, and we look forward to your valued feedback.

The survey closes on 15 August 2021, 11:59pm (BST).


We are thankful to the UNESCO Bangkok and the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) for supporting this project.

IPDC UNESCO

Header image: Bangkok, Thailand 9/19/2020: Journalists and photographers are the careers of people. Credit: STANG HONGTHONG/Shutterstock