We facilitate review of development assistance

The reformulated assignment for OmVärlden does not prevent the Sida-funded newspaper from reviewing the development assistance. However, it must primarily be the task of other newsrooms to review the development assistance, as OmVärlden can never be perceived as completely independent as long as Sida owns the brand. It writes Sida's communications manager Joachim Beijmo

When we now change the assignment for OmVärlden, some people seem to think that we at Sida want to avoid scrutiny. That's not true. Review makes Swedish development assistance better and it is an important task that we want to facilitate and support.

We still want OmVärlden to work independently of Sida and other actors, with its own editor-in-chief and its own responsible publisher. Investigative journalism is part of the mission, but it is not the main task.

Therefore, it is important for us to clarify that the mission is primarily about increasing knowledge about global development and how development assistance contributes (or fails to contribute) to sustainable development. This is the assignment we have from the government and the Riksdag. In that work, investigative journalism is an important part of OmVärlden.

Of course, the review of development assistance does not stand or fall with our ownership policy for OmVärlden. It would be presumptuous to believe. There is a National Audit Office, an Expert Group for Development Aid Analysis, a Riksdag with a Foreign Affairs Committee, a civil society with committed organizations and - of course - newsrooms and journalists who do not receive payment from the information grant from the state budget.

Reviewing and digging into development policy and development assistance must primarily be a task for other newsrooms. The outside world can never be perceived as completely independent as long as Sida owns the brand and finances production with money from the information grant.

Although I have never tried to influence, or even had a whiff in advance about, the content of OmVärlden in the five years I have been communications manager at Sida, debaters dismiss OmVärlden as "the aid industry's PR publication" due to the funding and the fact that the authority owns the newspaper.

Unfortunately, there is no money to put OmVärlden in its own company or a foundation. If the market existed, no one would be happier than I was, because in such a construction, independence would be more difficult to question.

Sweden's newsrooms have every opportunity to review and gain insight into development assistance. We are the only policy area with a guarantee of transparency and a website ( that guarantees transparency. Sida is also the authority that is most open with corruption risks and publishes an annual report on the handling of corruption cases.

In order to increase the opportunities for independent journalism on development assistance and global development, we have also for many years funded scholarships that the Hierta Board awards. They go on in-depth or reportage trips and have, for example, been used by reporters such as Jenny Nordberg, Nils Resare and Terese Cristiansson, who have hopefully been able to examine the aid better thanks to it.

We are changing OmVärlden's mission for modern working methods and forms of distribution, and we want a cost that is reasonable in relation to how many people OmVärlden reaches. Then we also take the opportunity to clarify the assignment. The interpretation that we thereby "stop scrutiny" is completely unreasonable.

We give the editorial staff continued freedom to work under their own responsible publisher. I look forward to continued review from OmVärlden, and from other newsrooms. It is necessary for our business to make the greatest possible benefit for people living in poverty or deprivation.

Joachim Beijmo, Head of Communications at Sida

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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