Audiences want more of the news that IRIN covers, according to study

30 October 2018

International audiences care about humanitarian affairs. In a recent large-scale survey by the Humanitarian Journalism Research Project, 59% of respondents said they were more interested in news about conflicts and crises than any other type of international news.

Yet IRIN is one of fewer than a dozen international news organisations that consistently cover humanitarian issues.

These and other findings of a new study by a consortium of researchers in the UK entitled “The State of Humanitarian Journalism” highlight the value of IRIN’s work in today’s media landscape. The product of four years of research among journalists, readers and humanitarian workers around the world, the report examines both what kinds of humanitarian issues are covered in the news, as well as how they are reported.

IRIN’s inclusion of local voices and perspectives in stories about humanitarian crises comes in for special mention. The report finds that while most news articles about humanitarian emergencies quote outside actors rather than local citizens, IRIN bucks the trend by interviewing people on the ground.

IRIN’s reporting on the 2015 earthquake in Nepal forms the centrepiece of a chapter on the differences between the way international news agencies and dedicated humanitarian news outlets cover natural disasters. Among the findings:

  • Two-thirds of all IRIN articles cited at least one affected citizen.
  • IRIN coverage addressed a wider range of issues than news agency reporting, including aid policy, disaster risk reduction and migration/internal displacement.

In addition, the study flags major gaps in coverage of certain issues within humanitarian crises, namely reporting on gender and investigative reporting. These are two areas that IRIN has already made an editorial priority, and we aim to continue producing more reports along the lines of our investigations into corruption and our reporting of women’s experiences in war zones.

Given the importance of telling such stories now, the report’s authors urge secure, ongoing funding for humanitarian news, without strings attached, calling it “crucial to making responses to suffering more effective.”

Read the full report here.

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