Media Matters for Democracy hosted a virtual panel discussion on Media Sustainability and Viability. The session was moderated by MMFD Program Manager Moaz Bhangu and senior program manager Arslan Saeed. The panelists included Tahir Mehdi, founder and editor of Lok Sujag, Talha Ahad, founder and CEO of The Centrum Media, and Sundus Rasheed, who recently launched her own media startup after participating in MediaHack, MMfD’s hackathon for entrepreneurial journalists and independent media startups.
The agenda of the discussion was two-fold. During the first session, Moaz Bhangu presented key findings and analysis from his ongoing research titled “Mapping Challenges and Opportunities for Financial Diversification and Business Development for Independent Media Startups”. Following which, Arslan Saeed put forth questions for the panelists and initiated the discussion on the current landscape of Pakistan’s media economy.
Below are some highlights and quotes from the discussions held:
Sundus Rasheed shared her experiences of launching Media Republic and highlighted the importance of grant money for producing quality content. She also discussed the constant changes in the Instagram algorithm that make it challenging to reach a broader audience.
Tahir Mehdi from Lok Sujag raised the issue of editorial sanity being compromised when running after eyeballs and ad revenue. He highlighted how platforms often highlight negative content topics such as harassment, misogyny, and political debate, instead of more positive.
Talha Ahad of TCM agreed on the potential for collaboration between digital media startups, which could lead to the creation of a joint strategy to reach a broader audience. He pointed out MMFD’s past facilitation of industry-led alliances for mainstream media.
Media Sustainability and progressing the Pakistani media economy through long term support building and hands-on interventions is one of MMfD’s key areas of work. MMfD has run several sub-grants and mentorship programs for journalists and media businesses from all over the country in order to create a more resilient, diverse and independent media.