MDIF Statement on Adri Senekal de Wet’s article, “Opinion: StratCom, come out for business’s sake”

3870The editor of the Business Report in South Africa, Ms. Senekal de Wet has made inaccurate and defamatory claims about Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) and our role in Mail & Guardian.

Ms. Senekal de Wet’s allegations about MDIF go beyond opinion and into the realm of fantasy. Her misidentification of MDIF as Media Diversity Fund sets the tone. Almost every statement she makes in relation to MDIF is incorrect.

While MDIF is a majority owner of Mail & Guardian, our ownership stake is well short of the 85% claimed in the article. Ms. Senekal de Wet also incorrectly claims that MDIF was founded with funds from the National Endowment for Democracy (which was founded in 1983 under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, not George Bush).

MDIF is a registered non-profit with an independent Board of Directors which was founded in 1995 with initial funding from Open Society Foundations and has since worked with over 50 funders, including a variety of foundations, development finance institutions, and individuals who are committed to supporting independent media across the world. It invests in independent news companies that provide the news, information and debate people need to build free, thriving societies. It is not part of a conspiracy, right-wing or any other, and has certainly never contributed to apartheid (not least because we were founded a year after South Africa’s first democratic election).

To be clear, MDIF has never interfered in its clients’ editorial decisions and to do so is against our founding principles. Neither the Mail & Guardian nor any other MDIF client in any country has had to report to us about their editorial output, or to be told by us what we think it should be.

The claims Ms. Senekal de Wet makes about MDIF are the product of her imagination, not reality. We are disappointed that Independent Media group has chosen to publish such an article without basic fact-checking.

About MDIF: MDIF is a New York-based not-for-profit investment fund, providing debt and equity financing to independent media businesses in countries where access to free and independent information is under threat. MDIF is also a co-founder of the South Africa Media Innovation Program (SAMIP), a $4 million, 3-year initiative to accelerate digital media innovation among independent media outlets and encourage new entrants.

For further information, contact: Peter Whitehead, Director of Communications, peter.whitehead@mdif.org, +44 7793050670.