Media Diversity Institute – Armenia (MDIA) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that seeks to leverage the power of the traditional media, social media and new technologies to safeguard human rights, help build a democratic, civil society, give voice to the voiceless and deepen the collective understanding of different types of social diversity.
MDIA was established on April 18, 2006 as a subsidiary of the London based Media Diversity Institute, but it is an independent local non-profit. Over the past years MDI Armenia has implemented a range of media support, pro-democracy and digital support projects.
From 2007 to 2008, in the wake of parliamentary and presidential elections, MDI focused on TV production and implemented the projects “Key-Point” and “Key-Point 2” funded by UNDP, OSI, US Embassy in Armenia. For the two consecutive electoral cycles we produced TV talk shows covering the key points of the political campaigns and bringing the citizen’s perspective into the mainstream media.
In 2009-2010 MDI Armenia focused on social media and new media. With the support of OSI Armenia and commercial sponsors, we implemented the first ever BarCamp Yerevan project, which included technology and blogger oriented conferences in Gyumri, Vanadzor, Vardenis, Yerevan, as well as a major (un)conference in Yerevan, which later became an annual event and has been ongoing on for 11 consecutive years.
In the same time-frame MDIA worked with ENPA-FLEG project and helped train and assist environmental activists and NGOs, providing them with citizen journalism, blogging, social media marketing, media relations and PR skills, necessary for making their voice heard and help them produce the www.antarner.net (http://antarner.wordpress.com) website, which received a great deal of media attention by exposing cases of illegal logging. That’s when we worked also intensively on crowd-sourced mapping and citizen reporting projects based on Ushahidi and Google Map technologies.
In 2012 – 2013 MDIA developed the https://iditord.org portal, the first Armenian election monitoring and fraud reporting platform, which at some point became such an important platform for reporting election irregularities and violations that it was targeted by a massive DDoS attack on the day of May 6 parliamentary elections in 2012. These projects were funded by several donors, including the OSI, USAID, Counterpart. We later worked with partners working on election monitoring and in 2018 passed the underlying technology and infrastructure to Transparency International Anticorruption Center in Armenia.
In 2014 — 2015 MDIA worked with the British Council and conducted a series of trainings for women politicians on PR, Media and Social Media. Among the trainees were representatives of ruling and opposition parties, working members of Yerevan’s Elder’s Council.
Since 2018 MDIA has become more involved in Digital Security, technologies for exposing disinformation and misinformation and incident response. We’ve provided IT audits and security assessments for more than a dozen of prominent Armenian Human Rights and media organizations. Since September 2019 MDIA also launched a Digital Security Helpdesk and Threatlab (https://cyberhub.am) and extended our assistance to civil activists, journalists, as well as HROs and independent media.
Over the passing year we have started co-operating with Oxygen Foundation, holding a joint digital security training for women’s NGOs as well as working jointly on common cyberthreats. For the future we see more possibilities for cooperation, as the role of technology grows in our daily lives further highlighted by the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since July 2020 MDIA has launched the “Combating Disinformation Virus” project with its partner — The Freedom of Information Center of Armenia. As part of the project we have created a Fact Checking curriculum, trained fact-checking trainers and launched 5 fact-checking laboratories in 5 educational centers.