Media Matters for Democracy works to defend freedom of expression, media, Internet, and communications in Pakistan. The main premise of our work is to push for a truly independent and inclusive media and cyberspace where the citizens in general, and journalists in specific, can exercise their fundamental rights and professional duties safely and without the fear of persecution or physical harm. We undertake various initiatives including but not limited to training, policy research, advocacy, movement building and strategic litigation to further our organisational goals. We also work on acceptance and integration of digital media and journalism technologies and towards creating sustainable ‘media-tech’ initiatives in the country.
As a by-product of our main work, we produce civic technology aimed at addressing various [media] related challenges, host a range of journalism training courses, produce journalistic content and facilitate multiple stakeholders and community engagement forums.
MMfD recognises diversity and inclusion as a core value of democracy and thus all our programs have a strong focus on fostering values and skills that enable and empower women, minority communities, and other marginalised groups.

Freedom of (online and offline) Expression

This program is the foundation of Media Matters for Democracy and the basis of most of our interventions. We believe that freedom of expression is essential for an open and democratic society. Under this program, we regularly carry out various research and advocacy intervention including the documentation of threats to media and speech, attacks on journalists, policy responses on various legislation that stand to affect free expression and public interest litigations.

All our initiatives feature a strong component of free expression and access to information. FoE advocacy is also one of our core organisational objectives and an intrinsic part of most of our initiatives.

Digital Rights and Security Interventions

DRSI aims to work towards a progressive, secure and inclusive cyberspace and digital rights paradigm in Pakistan. Under this program, we have a range of initiatives that seek to make the Internet a safer and a more conducive place to exercise fundamental rights, especially the free expression. Key interventions under DRSI include [but are not limited to]:

Journalism content generation on digital rights and Internet Governance issues – MMfD through its flagship initiative Report Digital Rights produce exclusive news content around digital rights issues which either remain under the media’s radar due to various commercial conflict of interests or simply aren’t covered. Find more about Report Digital Rights here

Digital Security Support –  We regularly host interventions on improving the digital security knowledge-base of journalists, human rights defenders and others who are at a risk. In order to respond to the needs of the community in real-time, MMfD also runs an informal digital security helpdesk for journalists [and human rights defenders], especially women, created under a program by UNESCO in 2015. Find out more here

Advocacy and Policy Research - We regularly undertake and produce research publications and self-learning manuals to further our organisational objectives. View all our publications here. Our advocacy interventions are crosscutting and mostly volunteer. In the past, we have run various advocacy campaigns including [but not limited to] for reforms in the cyber crimes law and for ending impunity in crimes against journalists. Find us on Facebook [facebook.com/mediamattersfordemocracy] and Twitter [@mmfd_pak] for details.

Community Engagement – We believe in the power of community building and engagement and thus all our interventions under DRSI and in general feature a strong community approach.

Media Tech

A big part of our work is to encourage interventions for conceptualisation and development of tech-based solutions that address challenges within media and/or journalism industry, motivate young and budding journalists to initiate tech-based/digital media/journalism start-ups and provide [limited, for now] incubation support. To name one, Awam is a digital solution for crowd-sourcing credible [citizen] journalism content with a special focus on authentication and on countering misinformation, created under this program.

Additionally, we host Hackathons, Scrapthons, and other similar tech-events with our partners to bring together techies and journalists to work together for innovation in media and journalism.

Media for Transparency

‘Media for Transparency’ aims to use and encourage the use of Pakistan’s Right to Information laws for data-driven investigative news reporting that seeks to inform citizens about government’s performance and promotes transparency and accountability. Some of our initiatives under this program are:

Data Journalism Capacity Building – We organise various capacity building interventions on using data

journalism through modules customised for Pakistani journalists. In future, we aim to expand the scope of these training sessions so more [local] newsrooms can benefit from the use of data skills in their reporting.

Journalism Content Generation – We generate journalism content to test and demonstrate the use of Right to Information laws and provisions and that of data journalism tools and techniques for data-driven journalism. Journalism content is hosted on our website www.pakrtidata.org

Resource Generation and Publishing of Open Datasets – We regularly share resources for journalists using RTI for data-driven journalism, including open datasets scrapped from the websites of various government departments, or collected through RTI requests, ready to use for journalists in their news stories.

Advocacy for Right to Information Laws - Through the use of the federal and provincial information laws, we document the performance of these laws. This documentation helps us identify challenges in implementation and better direct our advocacy efforts.

Public Interest Litigations and Legal Aid

Free expression is the foundation of our work.  We believe in actively fighting for our fundamental rights and to pursue our quest for a conducive environment for free speech in Pakistan, we have recently, with the help of our friends from the legal fraternity, started a public interest litigation program focused on free expression online and offline. We are now poising ourselves to, through our network of friends and partners, provide legal aid and assistance to those who are under threat of persecution for free expression.