77 million people receive their news from MDIF clients, but economic challenges remain

Last year, MDIF clients reached 77.1 million people in countries where access to free and independent media is under threat. At a time when fake news and propaganda are thriving and economic and political pressure on media organizations is mounting, MDIF clients provided fact-based news and informed opinion to people in nearly 30 countries, while generating a combined $338 million in sales.

The Media Development Impact Dashboard 2017, MDIF’s annual analysis of its impact results, found that working with MDIF significantly helps news companies grow audiences and revenues. After five years of working with MDIF, client reach increased by a median of 32% and sales by a median of 109%.

However, it also found that economic pressures pose the greatest threat to the existence of independent media. In a survey of 25 independent media companies in 19 countries (18 countries rated as ‘not free’ or only ‘partly free’ by Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2017), 88% identified macroeconomic pressures as a “major challenge” or one that “threatened the existence of their company”.

The Impact Dashboard also highlights the profound effect independent media have on their societies by exposing corruption and holding governments to account, encouraging democratic participation during elections, and covering issues like the environment, gender, ethnicity and LGBT.

Key findings of the Impact Dashboard 2017 include:


  • After five years of working with MDIF, client reach increased by a median of 32% (on average by 178%).
  • From 2015 to 2016, there was no change in median client reach, but average reach increased by 11%.


  • After five years of working with MDIF, clients increased their sales by a median of 109% (mean of 213%).
  • Clients saw a median annual growth rate of 20% (CAGR) during their first five years working with MDIF.


  • Median risk rating across the portfolio was 5.5 in 2016, a 3.7% decrease from 2015. The median remained firmly in the moderate risk range.
  • Across the portfolio, 69% of clients maintained or lowered their risk rating from 2015 to 2016.

Client Impacts on Society

  • In 2016, 76% of our clients reported on corruption scandals in their country.
  • In 2016, 82% of our clients held their governments accountable for their policy promises.

View our interactive Impact Dashboard presentation here or read the full publication here.

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