Civil Society, Free Media, and Advocacy

Independent Media, Access to Information, & Accountability

Presentation by
Tasneem Ahmar is the Director of theUks Research Centre, a media advocacy and monitoring organization in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ms. Ahmar is also the Executive Producer …

Democratic governance hinges on the general public’s access to information. The rights of free speech and free press should enable uninhibited and uncensored flows of information. In addition, “sunshine” laws should mandate greater transparency in how governments operate. Useful access, however, requires more than the disclosure of raw data; it requires explanation and interpretation. Reliable intermediaries such as independent think tanks, associations, researchers, writers, and above all the media are called upon to provide such analysis. Media, or the so-called “fourth estate,” refers to newspapers and periodicals in print as well as news and public affairs programs on radio and television, and, more recently, blogs and other online information and opinion sources. When independent from government and other undue influence, media constitute a critical component of a working democracy.