Media Diversity Institute works internationally to promote media and information literacy, combat disinformation and facilitate responsible coverage of diversity issues in local and international media.
What We Do
Media Diversity Institute (MDI) works internationally to encourage accurate and nuanced reporting on race, religion, ethnic, class, age, disability, gender and sexual identity issues in media landscapes around the world. While our work is grounded in the principles of freedom of expression and values of diversity and inclusion, our day-to-day work focuses on cultivating practical skills to combat negative stereotypes and disinformation, improve media and information literacy, and influence the conversation on diversity and the media.
Here are a few of the ways that we do this:
Over the years, Media Diversity Institute has offered an essential diversity perspective to several notable freedom of expression events, including but not limited to the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s Global Conference for Media Freedom, UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day and the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.
Trainings & Workshops:
Our projects offer practical trainings and workshops to journalists who demonstrate a desire to further their understanding of diversity issues and produce media that improves coverage of minority groups in their country. We also offer journalism trainings to media activists, to equip them with the skillset to bring authentic stories from their communities to the mainstream media.
A subset of our projects work with civil society organisations on how to create effective campaigns and work with journalists and media-makers to ensure that their campaigns have maximum impact. We also work with educators on creating curricula that integrate media and information literacy programming for students of all ages.
Each of our projects focuses on media production, resulting in articles, audio broadcasts, video and media campaigns that strengthen the media capacities of our stakeholders, and has meaningful impact for years to come.
Advocacy & Campaigning:
Media Diversity Institute has joined a number of other media development organisations in drafting recommendations and demands from governments, media broadcasters and regulatory organisations around the world.
MDI also works with media decision-makers, from editors to senior executives to ensure that they are facilitating the kind of coverage that is often overlooked, from all different parts of the world.
University of Westminster MA Course Diversity and the Media:
In September 2011, Media Diversity Institute teamed up with London’s University of Westminster’s Media and Communications Department to launch a Master’s curriculum that specifically focusses on diversity issues in the media. Over the course of the one year programme, students gain a theoretical framework for reporting diversity issues and practical training on print, radio, television and online media production.
Our alumni have gone on to work as journalists, media trainers and freedom of expression advocates at publications and organisations around the world.
Applications are open for the 2020-2021 academic year here.
Media Diversity Institute maintains an exhaustive list of guidebooks, studies and other academic and journalist resources on diversity issues in the media that are free to access for anyone who wishes to put them to good use.
If you have a resource that you would like us to feature, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Why We Do It
Journalists and media-makers have a unique power to shape our experience of diversity. According to a 2007 study from the European Commission, media is the third most influential force in society, only after parents and schools.
Often, diversity is poorly covered, not because of political agendas but because journalists are unaware of its implications, or not equipped with the proper knowledge or resources to cover it. We know that this has consequences. From the media’s coverage of the Balkan wars and Rwandan genocide that sowed the seeds of ethnic and religious hatred to more recent disinformation campaigns targeting journalists covering the Syrian civil war, and the downright hostile coverage of migrants and refugees in Europe and the United States, we have seen firsthand how a lack of care in journalism has grave consequences.
Media Diversity Institute fills the void by offering training and resources on topics like religious literacy and toxic media narratives to anyone who wishes to use them. We encourage newsrooms, media organisations and journalists around the world to integrate our resources into their work, and start conversations amongst their colleagues about ways that they can ensure that their work combats stereotypes and promotes tolerance.
Check out our resources here and our current projects here.
In the beginning, Media Diversity Institute was the European Centre for War, Peace and the News Media. We started by training journalists in the Balkans, Russia and South Caucasus on how to use media to heal the wounds left over by conflicts that ravaged the country. But we realised it wasn’t just conflict we needed to be talking about; it was also diversity.
We also realised that journalists alone cannot change the world. We needed to start speaking with media decision-makers. Who are the editors and media moguls that needed to know that stories about diversity matter? Which are the journalism schools that are training the next generation of great journalists? Who are the civil society organisations that are working closely with marginalised communities, who need our help connecting with journalists, and working with the media?
From there, Media Diversity Institute was born. First, we defined the issues we cared about—diversity ranging from race, religion and ethnic diversity to gender and sexuality to age and ability. Next, we engaged with everyone who cared about—or, in our opinion, should care about—these issues. We recruited promising journalists to our trainings, and engaged them in conversations about diversity in their countries and shared practical tools on how to create stories that elevate those voices. When they had difficulty publishing their stories, we talked to their editors about why these stories matter, and would draw larger audiences that deeply care about these issues. We worked with journalism faculty members to design new courses that integrate diversity into their curricula, and that students had the resources they needed to bring conversations about diversity and the media to the next level.
Since we first began twenty years ago, MDI has worked in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and even Cuba. We have done everything from training journalists on how to better report on minority communities, to giving cameras to civil society activists, and training them on how to bring stories from their communities to the mainstream media. Some of our projects focus on training journalists and civil society activists in how to recognise, and counter hate speech and disinformation. Others focus on media and information literacy education programmes, training students to critically understand and analyse media from a young age.
In recent years, we have taken our work to the digital sphere, working with big tech companies on how to stop the spread of hate speech and disinformation, all the while preserving freedom of expression online. We are currently wrestling with some of the biggest questions of our time, debating how we can use the Internet and social media to diversity’s advantage, without being beholden to it. As media, and the ways that people consumer media changes, Media Diversity Institute has also changed the way that it engages with the media, providing our stakeholders, partners and followers with the most current knowledge, resources and opportunities at the intersection of media and diversity.
Whether we are training civil society activists in a far off corner of the world, or meeting with big tech companies, Media Diversity Institute is working to build bridges and solidarity across diversity issues through good journalism that honours our past, our present and our future.
What People Say About Us
Over the years, Media Diversity Institute has worked with hundreds of journalists, civil society activists and academics to create connections and build solidarity between media and diversity issues. Here is what some of them have to say:
Daniela Drasata, Croatia: Diversity Expert and Television Producer
I grew up as a journalist with Media Diversity Institute—from joining a training, to having the honour of being invited as a trainer, and finally our partnership on the EU project New Neighbours.
Working in Croatia, the pure existence of MDI has meant so much to me. Reporting on diversity in Croatia was quite solitary work during the nineties. Knowing that MDI works on journalistic dilemmas and challenges I was struggling with, offering useful guidelines and techniques for (in my case) reporting on ethnical minorities – was, and still is, a great support.
Safi Naciri, Morocco: Civil society activist
During its work in Morocco, MDI left a big impact on the Moroccan media. They introduced the concept of diversity and the media approach, as they contributed also to the training of dozens of young Moroccan journalists, and strengthened the communication capacity of many local NGOs as well.
Boris Navasardian, Armenia: President of the Yerevan Press Club
“MDI’s work has been invaluable for Armenia and South Caucasus region, which is a highly patriarchal society with abundant stereotypes and a post-soviet style of journalism. MDI’s Reporting Diversity Curriculum is now a part of journalism education in a number of Armenian universities, while its trainings, team-reporting workshops brought a new quality of respect for diversity into the Armenian media.”
Jean Paul-Marthoz, Belgium: Journalist and Author - Terrorism and the Media: A Handbook for Journalists
One of the most challenging issues in my work as a writer and a human rights activist has been to reconcile religion diversity and freedom of expression. MDI has provided a space as well as ethical guidelines to discuss this challenge reasonably, openly and globally.
Leslie Abdela, United Kingdom: Expert on Women’s Rights and Political Participation
At a time when ethical journalism is under threat and political leaders denigrate the media and threaten journalists, the work of Media Diversity Institute is needed more than ever. Lack of coverage of women’s opinions and rights on all issues is de facto media censorship of the views of over half a country’s population.
MDI has been helping to ensure it is not just the traditional male elite groups setting the agenda for the future who have a voice in the media.
Verica Rupar, New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology - Department of Journalism
The power of media to foster social and cultural diversity, a very subject of MDI work, has been widely discussed in journalism studies scholarship, but not so much in journalism education. When it comes to incorporating the idea of inclusive society into the curriculum, universities tend to fall short of offering models future journalists can use when reporting on diversity issues. This has changed thanks to the work of Media Diversity Institute, which frames the study of journalism in a social, political, economic and technological context.
John Owen, United States: Frontline Club Co-Founder, MDI Trustee
I consider myself one of MDI’s earliest and staunchest supporters. Milica and her MDI colleagues have fought tirelessly to expose and oppose hate speech in the mainstream media, and, more recently, by combating the vicious online trolls.
MDI has also promoted and highlighted positive examples of good practise by journalists and media. In the age of Trump, Erdogan, Putin and Orban – to name a few of the world’s illiberal leaders- the challenges to free expression advocates and media campaigners like MDI have seldom been greater or posed more challenges. Its work is far from over.
Snjezana Milivojevic, Serbia: Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade
MDI’s work is continuously relevant in the Balkans. Through conflicts, highs and lows of democratic transition, technological and professional challenges to media ecosystem it is a constant reminder how important it is to cultivate and promote diversity. MDI’s projects and initiatives in Serbia are part of country’s difficult post-conflict and reconciliation endeavors.
Yearry Panji Setianto, Indonesia: Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa University - Department of Communication Studies
The first time I worked with MDI, it was quite mind-blowing. MDI teams shared their knowledge, technical skills, and support system on promoting diversity issues in media environment, and changed my understanding of the topic. After the workshop, I used the knowledge and skill that I gained to further engage in conversations around diversity within the journalism curricula that I used in my classroom.
As journalism educators, we have the key role of preparing the next generation of journalism/media producers with a better understanding of diversity issue both in local and global contexts. By preparing the journalism students with the sufficient understanding on the diversity, I expect that they implement that they have learned in the classroom to the news organisations after they graduated from the university.
Grigor Symbian, Armenia: Civil society activist
MDI was the bold organisation to speak to and about LGBTQ community in Armenia at times when nobody did. It was an incredible stimuli activist groups to seek visibility with the media.
Ahmed Samih, Egypt: Andalusia Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
The first time I received an email from MDI, I thought to myself: well here is a new white man NGO coming to lecture us about what’s what and who is who! Ten minutes into the first meeting I realised that I was totally mistaken.
Working with MDI over the past 10 years, in my home country Egypt and in the MENA region has not just been a professional experience; it is a deep, life experience filled with knowledge and cultural exchange, and a greater understanding for diversity around the world.
Nadezda Azhgikhina, Russia: PEN Moscow director
MDI is fantastic experiment. It is a great personal and educational experience for hundreds of media professionals and stringers/bloggers from many countries. It is built on solidarity and culture of tolerance, and uses real and practical methods to use media and journalists as tools and soldiers in information warfare around the world.
Anyone who has ever been a part of an MDI training session will promote its value. We have now worked together several times in both Russia and Europe, and hope to keep working together to widen MDI’s platform for media freedom, ethical and responsible journalism in all parts of the world.