Veronika Divišová: How to most effectively integrate technology in media development projects in the South Caucasus

Sourcefabric has repeatedly encountered weak and unsustainable technological solutions for beneficiaries of media development projects. The „technological debt“  among news organisations in low-income countries, and especially in countries affected by human rights violations or conflict, is consistently tolerated, while media in high-income countries place technological solutions at the centre of their strategic planning, fully aware that newsroom and publishing technologies have a direct impact on the organisations’ spending, income generation, access to audiences and quality of content.

Nowhere is technological advancement more evident than in journalism. News organisations are forced to monitor their effectiveness and rethink their strategies continuously. We have observed that news media involved in development projects do not receive anywhere near the high level of technological awareness that news industries enjoy in the EU or the US, although audiences, also in poorer countries, frequently have access to digital channels, and technologically sound news publishing can only improve audiences‘ access to news.

Sourcefabric wishes to open a deeper and continuous debate about how technological components can be most effectively integrated in media development projects. How can we assess the technological needs of projects?  How is technological knowhow fostered in your and partner organisations? How can the relevance and quality of available technological solutions for media be evaluated? Was the sustainability of technological solutions provided in the past reviewed? Can you share experiences from projects where effectiveness and sustainability of technological solutions were explored, for example with respect to proprietary versus open source,  relevance of implemented vis-á-vis latest global developments in communication and media technologies, or developing local community of technologists versus maintaining dependence on external technological providers?

Sourcefabric is an NGO developing and maintaining professional open source digital technological solutions for media and publishing. Together with its partner organisations in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Sourcefabric has worked in the past five years to strengthen digital media in the South Caucasus. We have worked on digital transition and digital innovation projects with well-established and young independent news channels. Most recently, we also cooperated with young activist groups and civil society organisations helping to build a region-wide network of groups and organisations experimenting with online radio.