Lessons from the Media

Will Taylor
Publication Date
November 1, 2016

"[A]ll these programmes sought to increase participation and accountability; reaching people that other media tend to ignore, getting them talking about politics and supporting them to influence decisions on the issues that affect their lives."

This BBC Media Action practice briefing summary accompanies Andrea Scavo and Chris Snow’s research report, published in October 2016, and reviews how political participation was measured in the research across seven countries and describes the lessons learned.

"Four factors were important for BBC Media Action’s programmes to connect with people, and inspire them to discuss and pursue change on the issues that mattered to them." Those factors include the following: 

  • Enabling discussions, not just providing information - This may include, drama, debate, collective problem solving on the air, and audience demands addressed to people in power.
  • Role modelling participation for everyone - This includes younger, economically poorer, female, and rural audience. "[Programmes address big governance issues in ways that people can relate to their lives, challenge norms around who can question whom, press leaders to respond and encourage inclusive discussions around solutions."
  • Independent, balanced spaces for constructive discussions - "Audience members consistently identified constructive dialogue, incorporation of diverse views and opinions and avoidance of the “blame game” as things that set its programmes apart." 
  • Understanding and adaptation - "Effective governance programming relies on the ability to understand and respond to changing context..." through local teams, research, and partnerships.

Good practice is exemplified through case study descriptions of: Lin Lat Kyair Sin (Bright Young Stars) from Myanmar and the 2015 election year in Nigeria. Characteristics of BBC Media Action programmes include:

  • Broadcast in local languages
  • Recorded in locations across the country in question, including some of the poorest and most marginalised areas
  • Diverse live audiences recruited from all sectors of society
  • Accessible while tackling the big issues that matter
  • Aim to generate balanced and independent discussion
  • Show political debate that people from all parts of society can relate to their lives

BBC Media Action website, February 22 2017.