Independent media play a critical role in building and sustaining democracies, societies, and economies around the world. They provide citizens with the information necessary to make informed political and economic choices. Independent media give voice to women, youth, and minorities, along with dissident political opinions. They also improve communities by providing citizens with important information on health, the environment, and rural development, and help people prevent and respond to disasters. To demonstrate the importance of fostering independent media, this report, published by the Center for International Media Assistance, provides examples of how access to information has transformed political, economic, and social systems. It shows what can happen when conditions allow independent media to operate and flourish.