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5.1 SDC’s vision, goals and ​underlying values

SDC aims to strengthen different aspects of a healthy media sector (See Figure 2 and guidance for media segments in chapter 6) in order to promote the media’s multiple roles in fostering inclusive, just and peaceful societies. This ultimate vision encompasses the following overarching goals:
  • to provide access to information for building informed public opinion – providing a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of events in a context that gives them meaning;

  • to ensure freedom of expression for citizens’ voices and participation – giving voice to different groups within society, projecting the opinions and attitudes of groups to one another, and facilitating civic engagement among all sectors of society;

  • to offer public space for open and non-violent debate;

  • to provide mechanisms for controlling public and private powers – increasing transparency among public and private powerholders and holding them to account for their actions.


To achieve these goals, society needs a media sector that embodies the following core values and that fosters social cohesion rather than fragmentation and discord:

  • Inclusion, equality, non-discrimination andsocial cohesion: The concern is not only the absence of restrictions on the media, but the extent to which all sectors of society, especially the most marginalised, can access the media to gain information and participate by making their voices heard. It is also about how the media presents marginalised groups, either propagating stigma or promoting social cohesion. To achieve better social inclusion through the media, infrastructural capacities and investments in ICTs are crucial, butnot sufficient. As stated by UNESCO, ‘limited access to – or lack of engagement with – the media is a function of poverty and poor education. It may also be caused or exacerbated by language, gender, age, ethnicity or the urban-rural divide. There is also a need to promote information and media literacy’ (UNESCO 2008). When those factors are taken into account to better enable the participation of marginalised groups in the public sphere, it allows for more consensual solutions to conflicts and greater social cohesion.

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  • Professionalism: The value of professionalism calls for journalistic practice of providing factbased, verified information and balanced coverage of the diverse viewpoints and concerns of different layers of society. Professionalism is key because the public need to have access to reliable information, from media they can trust. Without this relationship of trust, there can be no well-governed society.

  • Pluralism: Media pluralism forms an essential part of this vision. It is composed of external pluralism (i.e. a diversity of media outlets) and internal pluralism (a large diversity of views and background reflected in the editorial team and the outlet’s productions). In more fragmented and polarised media landscapes, and especially where governance and the mechanisms of democratic deliberation are weak, it is particularly important to strengthen media that cultivate internal pluralism by presenting a variety of viewpoints in a balanced manner, therefore contributing to building bridges between antagonist groups. Pluralism requires economic resources for sustainable media and legal provisions that ensure a level economic playing field. It also requires provisions for public and community-based as well as private media.

  • Independence and trust: Media independence is defined as the autonomous control over editorial content by publishers, broadcasters, editors and journalists within the framework of editorial aims that are articulated by the professionals involved. Control over editorial content has to be protected against a variety of external pressures, including direct and indirect political pressures, the use of financial resources, the control of distribution, or other efforts to pressure and use the media to promote factional sociocultural, economic or political interests. Control over editorial content also has to be protected against internal pressures, such as efforts by owners, publishers and managers to make that content subordinate to interests other than the agreed editorial aims. Independence is key for the media to promote transparency in public life and public scrutiny of those with power through exposing corruption, maladministration and corporate wrongdoing. It is also capital with which to build trust with audiences.

 Additional resources


    Accountable Journalism

    The Accountable Journalism database compiles international codes of media ethics from around the world and is the largest resource of its kind.

    Accountable Journalism