Internews Launches Center for Innovation, Research & Learning

April 6, 2011
New Initiative Will Experiment, Capture and Share Innovative Approaches From Around the World

Internews, the nonprofit that has championed local media development in more than 70 countries worldwide, is excited to announce the creation of the Internews Center for Innovation, Research & Learning.

Based in Washington, DC and operating globally, the Center aims to harness the potential of digital technologies and innovative approaches to better meet the information needs of communities around the world. The Center will also serve as a hub to inform and engage others in the fields of media, information technology and development.

Internews' numerous ongoing field projects already represent a laboratory of innovative activity that can be captured, shared, and taken to scale. Recent projects with local partners around the globe include: text-message news reporting in Pakistan; pioneering "Radio over Internet Protocol" (ROIP) in Afghanistan; social media projects for Egyptian youth; crowd-sourced conflict resolution reporting and mapping in Kenya; and, the first-ever Twitter campaign to cover elections in Ukraine.

This year, the Center will deploy a team of regional new media advisors to explore digital tools and potential partnerships with local institutions. The advisors will work with project teams throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East on experimentation, adaptation, and customization. Information and analysis gathered from these pilot projects will be shared through an online information platform, research papers, and presentations to development practitioners and the wider public.

"The speed of new players and new technology entering the field of development is rapidly changing," said Bob Boorstin, Director of Corporate and Policy Communications for Google. "Internews has deep experience applying cutting-edge media tools and is extremely forward-thinking in sharing these solutions broadly." Google has supported the center with a challenge grant of $150,000 to jumpstart the Center's funding effort.

Internews' current Media Map project is the research cornerstone of the Center. In partnership with the World Bank Institute and the Brookings Institution and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Media Map project analyzes and publishes data on the interrelations between information access and outcomes in democracy and governance, economic growth, poverty reduction, human rights, gender equality, and health. Building from this foundation, Internews will seek support for the Center from a variety of private sources, including the technology sector, academic and research institutions, foundations, and individuals, to make the Internews Center for Innovation, Research & Learning a dynamic public-private partnership that leverages resources and expertise to benefit communities throughout the world.

"Internews has been a key player in the global effort to improve information during emergencies. But crisis communications is changing quickly, and there's an urgent need for good research on the promise as well as the potential problems of the new informational ecology," said Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology, New York University.

"The Internews Center for Innovation, Research & Learning stands to be a leader in this effort. I'm eager to learn what it discovers."

Mark Frohardt will lead the Center as Executive Director. Prior to his appointment, Frohardt was Internews Vice-President for Africa and Humanitarian Media. He brings extensive experience in media development, research, technology deployment, and humanitarian assistance to his new role. "I could not be more excited and honored to be part of this initiative. Our ongoing experimentation and evidence-based research will allow us to make significant contributions to the rapidly changing information ecologies around the world," Frohardt said.