A total of 120.4 million people received their news from MDIF clients in 2019 – a record high in our 24 years of work – with 76.5 million accessing information online and 43.9 million through traditional media. At the same time, MDIF media clients generated $441.5 million in revenues, with each dollar managed by MDIF leveraging $3.83 in client revenues.
These are some of the findings from the 2020 Media Development Impact Dashboard, our annual analysis of MDIF’s impact results, both in terms of the impact of our investments on media businesses and their impacts on society.
The Impact Dashboard 2020 also revealed consistent evidence of sustained growth by the news companies we invest in. After five years of working with us, clients increase their reach by 187.2% and their revenues by 218.1% on average. Overall, from the beginning to latest year of their relationship with MDIF, eight out of ten clients increased or maintained their reach, while seven out of ten increased or maintained their revenues.
But despite these positive trends, MDIF-supported media continue to face multiple constraints. The report found that economic challenges remain the greatest threat to independent media. Consistent with previous years’ results, 63.3% of our clients saw economic and business issues as a major challenge in 2019. This is clear validation of our mission to provide financing and technical assistance that help independent media companies build the resilience needed to weather market volatility and navigate complex challenges, such as those posed by COVID-19.
More than 74% of our clients agreed or strongly agreed that there had been positive changes in their company because of their involvement with MDIF, while 95.5% of those who received capacity building support in 2019 agreed or strongly agreed that there had been positive changes in their company because of that intervention. Clients surveyed responded that 100% of the changes occurring as a result of their involvement with MDIF or as a result of our technical assistance were positive. Although the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 are extreme, we believe that our past work supporting clients to build revenues, audiences and solid financial footings has helped put them in the best possible position as they respond to the crisis.
Most importantly, MDIF support helps clients build a sustainable platform from which they can produce high-quality journalism that brings about transformative changes to their communities. In 2019, MDIF-supported companies declared that their reporting created real-world impact on corruption (86.2%), accountability (78.6%), social issues (71.4%) and elections (48.3%). Typically, the impact would be the enactment of a law, the launch of an investigation, the overhaul of flawed procedures or the triggering of a public protest.