IRIN Vacancy: Executive Editor
Start-date: January 2018 or earlier
Location: Geneva, Switzerland, with some travel
Deadline for application: 30 September 2017
IRIN puts quality, independent journalism at the service of the world’s most vulnerable people. Our journalists report from the frontlines of conflicts and natural disasters in 70 hotspots to drive more effective prevention of and response to crises.
Some 220,000 people (mostly government, UN and NGO officials, journalists and academics) visit our website every month, 40,000 subscribe to our email newsletter, and millions more access our work through social media and syndication by mainstream media. Our journalism has prompted public petitions, donations and charity telethons, new aid programmes, debates in local parliament and changes in UN policy.
After 19 years as part of the United Nations, IRIN spun off in 2015 to become an independent non-profit media organisation, now headquartered in Switzerland. Over the last two years, we have constituted a legal entity, sharpened our editorial voice, launched a new website and investigative unit, raised more than $4 million, and struck a board of directors, led by Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, author and professor Howard French.
We have laid the operational foundation for this new chapter in our history, and are now building a leadership team to position IRIN for the future. As such, we are recruiting our first Executive Editor to shape the vision and strategy of IRIN’s journalism moving forward.
The successful candidate will enter into the position with many assets: an organization with a strong reputation – built over 20 years – of journalistic integrity and credibility; a loyal audience of decision-makers and practitioners who have influence over the lives of millions of people; a team of journalists and editors deeply committed to their work and open to new ways of working; and a compelling mission.
You will join our small, passionate team at a historic time for IRIN, the digital media landscape and the humanitarian industry. The number of people in need of emergency life-saving aid has more than doubled over the last decade to 128 million. The humanitarian response industry is now worth billions of dollars a year – and rising – and yet, it has few independent voices or checks and balances. While journalists are busy holding the powerful to account in politics or even sports; few independent, investigative press play this role in this most important beat of life and death.
Amid an unprecedented number of simultaneous crises around the world and a media industry in financial crisis, IRIN’s informed and independent critique and analysis is more needed than ever. Our reporting tackles many of the key issues of our time, from migration to climate change, from the war in Syria to a multi-billion-dollar aid industry in turmoil. This is a unique opportunity to take an under-serviced beat and a widely recognized and respected brand to new heights at an exciting moment of change and possibility.
We want a leader who is dynamic and entrepreneurial; deeply devoted to quality journalism while able to capitalize on ever-evolving digital opportunities; and committed to our values: at IRIN, the humanitarian imperative comes first. Our first responsibility is to those at heart of crisis zones whose voices we seek to amplify.
Reporting to IRIN’s Director, you will form part of the management team, leading a team of six in-house editors/reporters and a network of some 200 regular contributors. You will help raise the standard of IRIN’s journalism to new heights, by enforcing a news culture in an organization that was historically an independent part of the aid sector. In so doing, you will help us achieve our vision of becoming the go-to source for the world’s best journalism about the world’s toughest crises.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Articulate and communicate vision and direction for IRIN’s journalism – both internally and externally
- Ensure that IRIN’s content respects the highest journalism standards and is in line with its mission; ensure overall cohesion of products
- Map trends; engage in long-range planning; develop and revise editorial work plans, targets and milestones
- Oversee editorial staffing and budgetary decisions; allocate and monitor financial and other resources for editorial operations
- Determine ideal editorial staff structure, work processes, and relationship with freelancers; identify gaps and solutions
- Revise editorial guidelines as needed and work closely with Managing Editor to ensure that every story has clear framing, insightful analysis, diverse voices and tight, compelling writing
- Supervise, mentor and conduct appraisals for editorial staff; oversee recruitment of new editorial staff; identify and recruit high-quality contributors
- Identify strategic opportunities for journalistic innovation and product development that increase IRIN’s impact
- Oversee execution of longer-term or special editorial projects and deeply reported investigative stories
- Stay abreast of media trends and developments in the humanitarian response industry
- Use data and analytics to shape editorial strategy; ensure IRIN’s activities and outputs are tied to stated objectives and desired impact
- Represent IRIN at journalism conferences, in the media, and other public fora
- Explore and strike strategic editorial partnerships
- Conduct risk assessments for dangerous assignments and ensure IRIN fulfils its duty of care towards its contributors and staff
- Update and advise management team and Board of Directors on editorial matters
- At least 10 years of experience in journalism; including at least 3 years in a senior editorial management role
- Demonstrated ability to lead editorial teams and handle large budgets
- Active network of high-level contacts and/or strong interpersonal working relationships with news organizations covering international affairs
- Exceptional written and verbal fluency in English
- Deep understanding of media landscape
- Experience in international journalism
- Familiarity with operational issues, such as duty of care of freelancers and copyright/ownership of intellectual property
- Understanding of international humanitarian industry, and Global South/emerging markets
- Advanced university degree in journalism, communications or relevant field
- Fluency in additional languages
- Strong leadership skills; ability to set and build support for a clear vision; demonstrated ability to lead, inspire and motivate others
- Strong management skills; ability to handle HR and budgetary issues with sensitivity and professionalism
- Ability to guide delivery under pressure
- High level of organization; ability to multi-task and prioritize amid competing demands
- Ability to build collaboration and cooperation within and across a diverse, decentralized, multicultural team
- Networking; well-developed communication (written and oral), presentation, advocacy and representational skills appropriate for diverse, multicultural audiences
- Creative, out-of-the-box thinking
- Demonstrated commitment to IRIN’s editorial values: independence, courage, humanity, authenticity, excellence, diversity, constructiveness and trustworthiness
- Aptitude for seeing the story where others do not; finding the nuggets of gold in the haystack; and predicting trends
IRIN is an award-winning humanitarian news and analysis outlet that was hosted and funded for nearly 20 years by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Founded in 1995, as a result of the humanitarian information gap exposed by the Rwandan genocide, our frontline reporters highlight neglected crises around the world, giving a voice to the most vulnerable, and critically examining what has now become a multi-billion-dollar aid industry. Our work shapes the narrative, affects policy and prompts action. We are a go-to source for decision makers in the humanitarian aid sector, including in the UN, governments and other policy circles. Our work is regularly cited and reproduced in academic journals and local and international media outlets, including BBC and the New York Times.
We are currently funded by a mix of governments and foundations, confirming the conclusions of an independent feasibility study, which in 2014 found IRIN to be “valuable, viable and fundable” outside the UN. We plan to grow our operating budget from $2 to $5 million, to increase the scope of our coverage, the scale of investigative work, and the size of our audience.
How to Apply
Send your CV to [email protected] (subject line: Executive Editor), along with a cover letter outlining your relevant experience, your interest in working with IRIN, and initial thoughts on how to take our humanitarian journalism to the next level.