25 years of journalism from the heart of crises
The last few weeks and months have been difficult for many of us. I hope that you are coping as best as possible in the circumstances; and I am thinking of those who are likely to be even harder hit in the coming weeks.
While it can be hard to think of anything beyond the pandemic right now, I wanted to highlight a couple of our plans for this year:
2020 marks the 25th anniversary of The New Humanitarian (and before it, IRIN News). We were born out of the Rwandan genocide and we are marking a quarter century of reporting from crisis zones just as another major crisis unfolds.
It’s no time for celebration, but this moment offers us an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of humanitarian action over the last 25 years and on how emergency aid will change in the next 25 years, particularly as this global pandemic forces so many deep transformations in the way the world responds to crises.
We’ll be publishing articles, commentaries and visualisations that we hope will help our readers navigate this brave new world. We're calling the series “Rethinking Humanitarianism”.
The current crisis has also made humanitarianism more relevant to global audiences than it has perhaps ever been. And so, we hope this series can also serve as an entry point for people who are – perhaps for the first time, awoken by this virus – interested in better understanding how the humanitarian sector operates.
Stay tuned for the series launch this summer.
On the occasion of our 25th anniversary, we’ll also be launching a voluntary membership programme.
We’ve been toying with this for some time now, but the current crisis has underlined its value even more.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of reliable information about crises, and we are – thankfully – seeing trust in the media being re-built. Our audience has nearly doubled as readers turn to us for an authoritative perspective on the impact of – and response to – this virus, particularly in humanitarian settings.
As a mission-driven, non-profit newsroom, our content will remain free. Our membership programme will not act as a paywall nor will it stop you from accessing the stories you value. Rather, it will be an opportunity for you to voluntarily contribute to supporting our journalism - both financially and with your ideas, feedback and engagement.
This crisis has reminded us of the importance of community; and fundamentally, that’s what this membership programme is about.
We want to create ways in which you can help shape our journalism, engage with our team, and engage with each other. I believe the future of journalism lies in interacting with audiences on a deeper level. As the audience engagement gurus Hearken have put it, “by refocusing attention on the audiences we serve, newsrooms will develop deep, sustaining relationships that will begin to repair the outdated, broken business models.” This is about making our journalism more responsive to our audience’s needs, more representative of our audience’s diversity, and more inclusive of our audience’s voices.
But speaking of business models, as you know, The New Humanitarian is primarily funded by foundations and governments. While we have (so far) been spared the financial havoc wrecked on many advertising-dependent newspapers that have been forced to shut down or fire journalists in the wake of this economic crisis, our membership programme will also help us develop more diverse and sustainable ways of supporting our critical journalism, especially at this time of financial instability.
We’ll soon be calling for readers interested in becoming founding members; and look out for the wider launch later this year.
For The New Humanitarian, this global pandemic has imposed several important duties on us:
In an age when mis/disinformation can have fatal consequences, we have sought to provide reliable, fact-based information about this crisis to help drown out the deadly rumours and lies.
While the whole world is preoccupied with this new coronavirus, we have continued shining a light on other crises, equally deserving of our attention, and now even more forgotten.
At a time when many countries are focusing inwards, we have urged audiences not to forget about the most vulnerable in communities with weak health systems, large populations of displaced people, or experiencing conflict.
We are bracing ourselves that the worst effects of COVID-19 are yet to be seen, but we hope that we can contribute to improving the world’s response to this crisis, and that you can contribute to ensuring we continue doing this important journalism.
Wishing you safety and serenity in this time of uncertainty,
Director, The New Humanitarian