Media and Security Sector Reform
DCAF/ISSAT Knowledge Products
- Media & SSR – A Practical Note for Enhancing Reforms - ISSAT 2017. An ISSAT note describing how media actors engaged in security issues ought to review their strategies and move beyond crisis messaging towards enhancing media capacity and suggesting key entry-points for both media and security actors.
- Encouraging open debate: the essential role of civil society and media in good security governance - DCAF, 2016. A think piece which explores the challenges of covering SSR in the media and suggests potential entry points for enhancing engagement.
- The Military, the Media and Public Perceptions in Egypt: Communication and Civil-Military Relations - DCAF, 2016. A case study of the Egyptian military's media coercion strategy in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.
- DRC: Transforming the Congolese Armed Forces - DCAF, 2014. In-depth analysis of SSR in the DRC, including efforts to rehabilitate the public image of the Congolese military through a media campaign.
- Media Toolkit For Trainers - DCAF, 2014. This toolkit, produced by DCAF, offers training sessions and material for media trainers to build the capacity of journalists and editors in the media's role security sector governance and reform:
Policy and Research Papers:
- Changing Media Landscapes in Transitional Countries: Handbook on Mapping Media Landscapes - International Media Support, 2016. This handbook provide advice and recommendations on how to establish a media mapping capacity in countries that recently have experienced political change.
- In the Public's Eye: The British Army and Military-Media Relations - RUSI, 2009. This article explores the changing relationship between the British military and the media, highlighting the dangers of military doctrines which incorporate media relations into 'psychological operations' and deception, leading to the conflation of terminology refering to the media and the 'enemy'.
- British Army Digital Strategy - British Army Media and Communication, 2016. This paper explores the potential for active engagement with social media to educate audiences on the roles of the Army.
- Australian Defence Forces Review of Social Media and Defence - Australian Defence Forces, 2016. This report details the ADF's social media strategy, identifying different sets of 'brand values' for each of the three armed services.
- Media, Civil Society and the quest for transparency in the security sector - German Institue for International and Security Affairs/DCAF, 2005. This paper discusses transparency within media-security actor relations, highlighting the apparent securitisation of media reporting due to the encroachment of government intelligence networks into media space.
- Strategic Communications and National Strategy - Chatham House, 2011. This report discusses the disconnect between foreign policy strategies and media engagement. It argues that media engagement tends to be directed at reconciling policy with actions, rather than defining policy at the outset.
- Role of the Media in National Security & SSR: Lessons from Liberian Conflict, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2012. This video from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies discusses the challenges associated with media reporting in conflict environments.
Entry Points - SSR Perspective
1. Consultations: media actors and platforms are key to inform and channel community needs and expectations towards decision-making bodies.
2. Legal Framework Assessments :
- Extent and quality of information access;
- Freedom of information applied to official documents (e.g. open governmental databases) and documents of “public interest”;
- Whistleblower protection measures ;
- Rules and practice of classification (e.g. extension/over-classification).
3. Media Oversight Opportunities: Capacity development of media actors and platformsto monitor the formal democratic oversight functions of the security sector (e.g. Parliament’s Defence, Police, Justice related proceedings).
4. Financial-reporting as crucial enabler of democratic governance.
5. Integration of media actors and platforms as a Monitoring & Evaluation mechanism for SSR programming.
6. Assessment of the intelligence framework and intelligence reform:
- Classification of information (who does it, who enforces it, who sanctions it and who uses it?);
- Legal definition of crimes against State security;
- Ultimate control over wireless communications (State vs operator);
- Legal framework of surveillance (including of Internet traffic and wireless data);
- Access to public but confidential archives for vetting reasons (e.g. of staff serving past regimes, lists of human rights perpetrators, etc.)
Entry Points - Media Perspective
- Reforms take time. The first challenge for engaging media actors in Security Sector Reform is related to capacity building. Awareness and capability are needed to go beyond short-term incident-focused approaches towards longer-term approaches focusing on issues, contexts, and trends.
- Information access is closely linked to power access. Acting on the former will likely impact on the latter. Reform processes are strengthened by broad participation, which in turn depends on access to information as an empowering factor, bringing marginal constituencies into the political process where reform is shaped and sustained.
- Behavioral change is a complex process. Research shows that support for long-term change depends less on what is said and more on how it is being articulated. Challenging entrenched beliefs, mindsets or cultural models requires reversing existing “patterns of expectation” which is a lengthy and difficult process.
- Reform needs to be articulated around outcomes not just solutions. SSR proposals need to be unpacked, explaining how they improve outcomes. Solution-oriented messaging can be counter-productive.
- Decision-making is context-specific. It is the result of a complex socio-cultural process involving a diverse set of actors. SSR communications should be framed based on that understanding when it provides information and analysis regarding the context, relations, and power dynamics.
- SSR processes need to be communicated in a holistic manner. SSR has to be communicated as part of a holistic socio-political change process. In that sense, reform proposals alone don’t speak for themselves; they need a full explanation of context, variables, and mechanisms.