Afghan media establishing themselves in exile

Afghanistan’s media has faced a year of censorship, arrests, restrictions on women journalists and seen many experienced reporters leave since the Taliban assumed control of the government in August 2021.

IMS has continued to support Afghan journalists and media, not only inside, but increasingly also outside of the country. Programme manager Astrid Coyne-Jensen explains that IMS has been hard at work to add a new exile media component for some time, but it is no easy task.

“Staff from Afghan media outlets are scattered around the world, so it is a challenge to assemble an editorial team. IMS’ intension with the exile assistance is to ensure survival of Afghan journalists and Afghan media. And to ensure collaboration with journalists remaining inside so that reliable public interest news from Afghanistan can reach Afghan audiences inside and outside of the country,” she says.

One example is the support to news outlet Etilaatroz – widely seen as the most prominent and independent newspaper in Kabul before Taliban came to power. Editors and journalists now live in Albania, the US and elsewhere – and some remain in Afghanistan, too. Their business model was based on advertisement and subscriptions but the financial challenges inside Afghanistan have made it impossible to continue as before.

IMS are supporting Etilaatroz to:

  • rehire staff around the world, rehire a significant group of journalists inside Afghanistan and extend their coverage by allowing editors to engage with freelancers and community journalists.
  • dedicate an editorial team specifically to focus on coverage of gender issues, which is hugely important since Taliban enforced restrictions on women reporters.
  • learn from the of experience of IMS partners from Syria, Myanmar and other countries with prominent exile media and collaborate on how best to amplify stories, get information from Afghanistan out, produce stories and news and distribute them back to an Afghan audience inside the country – safely.

To sustain and support others who are exiled, IMS is also supporting Kite Runner, a hub based in Istanbul working with Afghan journalists and media workers. The hub offers counselling, professional training and networking opportunities. Read more about Kite Runner.

For media operating inside Afghanistan challenges remain significant and severe, not least due to a declining economy, heavy restrictions on the media and uncertainty in the implementation of the new regime’ directives.

“Adaptive planning and flexibility, as well as an increased focus on safety and security have become the approach that allows activities to continue,” explains Astrid Coyne-Jensen.

IMS works in close collaboration with trusted partners and are currently the only media support organisation to have local presence in all 34 Afghan provinces through partnerships.

IMS support in Afghanistan

Following an outpouring of support from the public – and with the support from DANIDA, Sida and the EU – IMS has been able to use donations to:

  • offer emergency support to at-risk journalists (accommodation, food, clothes, training and/or psycho-social support).
  • report on violence against journalists, as well as advise media and other stakeholders on safety.
  • support independent media outlets operating both in-country and outside of Afghanistan.
  • put a specific emphasis on supporting women in all efforts.