Challenges Faced by the Exiled Turkmen Media

On the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Internews published a report titled Flight and Fight: Supporting Exiled Media to Survive and Sustain. The report is based on interviews with 25 exiled media outlets from 17 countries, including Turkmenistan. It outlines the challenges faced by exiled media and how governments, donors and others can support these outlets to continue their vital work.

Among the interviewed media outlets 76% operate in a hybrid model, with editors outside of the country, and reporters both in and out of the country. Almost all outlets rely on grants and donor funding as a source of revenue.

Challenges for exiled media outlets manifest at two levels, structural and organizations.

Structural challenges are largely beyond the power of the media outlets to resolve. These include issues such as:

  • Legal and regulatory complexities in host countries, which make it difficult for these media outlets to relocate and register.
  • International banking regulations that make it difficult to set up functioning media outlets.
  • Social media platforms’ algorithms and policies that can limit the visibility, distribution and reach of content produced by exiled media outlets.

The organizational level challenges include day-to-day operations that may be addressed with the right strategies and support. These include:

  • Working with sources and verifying information from afar.
  • Recruiting skilled journalists, either in exile or in the country-of-origin.
  • Ensuring safety and security of the outlet’s operations, staff, and audience.
  • Identifying audiences’ information needs and engaging with different audience segments.
  • Reaching audiences in the country-of-origin due to government-imposed internet shutdowns.
  • Censorship attempts from origin-country governments, including DOS attacks, social media defamation ​​and other forms of transnational harassment.
  • Measuring the reach and impact of media content.
  • Diversifying revenue models to shift away from donor dependence.

To address these challenges the report recommends creating more networking opportunities for exile media to build solidarity and share resources; offering flexible funding to keep outlets operating; and providing legal support to register these outlets in host countries.

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