In 2017, after a decade of working with journalists, NRGI crafted a new strategy for media programming, leveraging lessons from its development programs and considering broader learning and trends in the field.
Throughout this process, our focus pivoted away from regional trainings for individual journalists toward country partnerships with leading media houses coupled with national fellowships. NRGI courses had hitherto focused on bringing together journalists from different countries for learning and sharing. While this was recognized as valuable, more time was needed to delve into and unpack critical aspects of resource governance unique to each country and relevant news angles. NRGI has decided to pivot to a stronger country and media house focus going forward.
NRGI’s learning was underpinned by monitoring, evaluation and learning tools and processes, which surfaced data on program delivery and outcomes as well as trends and lessons for continual adaptation. We have now systematized these MEL tools, which have been tested in four countries over five years, and are excited to make them available in a consolidated, accessible online platform.
The landing page of the MEL platform, showing the different program stages and cross-cutting guidance.
Since 2009, NRGI has been undertaking annual country specific evaluations that compared the quantity and quality of journalists’ articles before and after interventions. Those evaluation exercises, which provided great insights for our programming, are the backbone for some of the tools presented on the platform.
These evaluations benefitted from insights and inputs from our media implementing partners, such as the African Centre for Media Excellence in Uganda, the Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania, Penplusbytes in Ghana, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism in Nigeria, the School of Media and Communications at Pan-Atlantic University in Nigeria, Article 19 in Tunisia and others. They were also bolstered by the work of our MEL consultants, Nairobi-based Strategic Connections led by Tom Olila.
MEL is central to NRGI’s work at the global and country levels. We employ MEL to remain accountable to core aims of achieving results across our programming and, importantly, to stimulate learning and reflection that improve the effectiveness of our interventions. By sharing these tools, we encourage the broader media development community to adopt and adapt some of the rigorous approaches that NRGI has put together to track activities, outcomes of our work with media, distil lessons, identify challenges and adapt programming to respond to changing needs and contexts. We also hope that in sharing these tools we can actively promote innovation, risk-taking, and deliberate learning and sharing across the field. The tools are ideal for organizations that, like NRGI, work in partnership with local implementing partners, but also organizations that directly carry out media capacity development activities. While some of these tools may speak directly to the needs of media reporting on oil, gas and mineral governance issues, as well as specifically to NRGI strategic thrusts, they are easily adaptable to other sectors and to the work of other organizations.
This media MEL dashboard features tools and templates useful for scoping, designing, monitoring and evaluating media capacity development interventions including training, mentorship, fellowship and reporting grant support. The tools are organized along the different phases of a media program cycle, i.e., the design (inception), implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages, and are complemented by cross cutting guidance, including the NRGI media strategy and media program MEL framework. We opted to develop a simple but interactive, user-friendly platform that gives users access to the tools they need, when they need them.
Monitoring, evaluation and learning tools available on the NRGI online platform include:
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We present these tools to our program partners, training beneficiaries and to the media development community, hoping you will find them useful. For feedback and to request access to the media strategy and specific tools, please write to us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.
Toyin Akinniyi is a media capacity development associate at the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).