The New Humanitarian’s journalism informs decision-makers in the aid sector and shapes broader media narratives: Results of our latest audience survey
Leaders in the aid sector come to The New Humanitarian for expert analysis, coverage of ongoing crises, and to hear the voices of people affected by humanitarian crises, according to the newsroom’s biennial reader survey. Respondents said they read The New Humanitarian often and that our journalism regularly informs their decision-making and thinking on key issues.
What our readers told us
- Respondents feel that mainstream media coverage of humanitarian issues is inadequate in quantity and quality, and that TNH fills an important gap.
- Our readers are influential in the aid sector: Respondents typically work in NGOs or inter-governmental organisations, hold senior positions in their field and have decision-making power in their organisation
- Our readers who work in media say our work has often prompted them to report on a story they had not previously covered.
- Readers told us we are at our best with consistent coverage of ongoing crises, decolonised forms of reporting, and investigations
Our readers come to us often for journalism they trust
Three-quarters of respondents – they were more than 1,000 – say they come to The New Humanitarian at least weekly. The primary places they access our journalism remain the newsletter (71%) and website (45%). Our fast-growing podcast has become a key platform too for some 15% of respondents.
Those readers and listeners come to us because, say more than 70% of them,The New Humanitarian reports on issues that other news outlets do not. Another 70% say we publish investigations into the aid sector that are hard to find elsewhere. Some 36% of readers find us more trustworthy than other news sources.
How often readers come to TNH
- Weekly (56%)
- Daily (19%)
- Occasionally (16%)
- Monthly (8%)
Readers told us we are at our best with our consistent coverage of ongoing crises and issues, decolonised forms of reporting, and our investigations. More than 60% said they read us for coverage of global, cross-cutting topics, while close to 60% read TNH for coverage of a particular issue. Policy and conflict remain top of the list of topics our readers want to see covered more, joined this year by stories about the root causes of crises. Some 30% follow for coverage of a particular region, and 40% are looking for stories about a specific country.
Readers of The New Humanitarian also feel that mainstream media coverage of humanitarian issues is inadequate in quantity and quality, and that TNH fills that gap for them. This echoes results of past surveys.
“I have witnessed highly biased mainstream media coverage because of geopolitical and national interest related motives, particularly in the case of Ethiopia.”
“Mainstream media coverage is too sensationalist.”
“Mainstream media barely scratches the surface of humanitarian issues outside of the US & UK. The motivation likely being self-interest.“
“There is extreme bias towards humanitarian issues that directly affect, or are more adjacent to, geographically or politically, global north contexts. Colonial framings are also rife. It's very poor across most media outlets.”
“People who only read mainstream news regularly ask me what Yemen is and if there is a war there still. Mainstream media moves on too quickly and only covers what is sensationalist or happening at that exact moment and mostly only in places in the US or Europe.”
Our readers are decision-makers in the humanitarian space
About 40% of survey respondents are senior professionals. More than half work for NGOs, inter-governmental organisations and national governments, with smaller segments from academia, the media, and the private sector. Of those in the aid sector, more than 60% are decision-makers within their respective organisations, working in jobs that directly impact humanitarian action and policy.
TNH readers working in the humanitarian sector are usually decision-makers within their organisations
- Some decision-making authority or influence (32%)
- Significant decision-making authority or influence (29%)
- Minimal decision-making authority or influence (14%)
- Final decision-making authority (10%)
We help them make better decisions
Readers told us about a number of ways The New Humanitarian’s journalism impacts their professional lives – 80% said our work is important to theirs.
Our journalism has helped inform funding decisions, set strategy and develop programmes. Many readers see our reporting as a resource for their research, or for background information. A notable number of respondents mentioned that our coverage has helped inform and shape individual and organisational thoughts around decolonising aid.
“An article on sexual exploitation and abuse in Burkina Faso led to increased attention in terms of prevention at country level and decision to fund a human resource on the topic.”
“Before TNH, I wasn't aware about very focused issues with localization in the humanitarian context. This made my group much more focused on the relevance of terminology and translations beyond just our language (Portuguese).”
“Content with a heavy focus on decolonising humanitarian action was used as a base for further research and as part of documentation of an internal push for change.“
“The debate on decolonisation and localisation has enabled me to push the agenda further with my Board, who are the usual humanitarian actors who say the right things but are mostly resistant to change.”
“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, policies, and practices have been positively affected by The New Humanitarian's reporting, especially in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“I manage a programme that prioritizes the safety and relocation of non-religious activists and refugees, especially in the Middle East/North Africa -- those who suffer persecution because they have abandoned Islam or religion in general -- and the insight TNH delivers about conditions on the ground and from other NGOs is used to guide our internal decisions regarding what we can and cannot do for those charged/accused of blasphemy and apostasy.”
“Risk management - TNH coverage allows me to provide additional insights into situations relevant to our work in the countries we operate in.”
“The key contributions of TNH are in keeping me and my colleagues informed of key issues in the humanitarian sector, and to some degree in the issues and contextual realities of the countries we work in.”
Our reporting influences other media
This proves true across our own field: Half of respondents who work in the media said that our work had prompted them to look into a topic. Nearly half also said that our work had prompted them to report on a story they had not reported on previously.
Media respondents and their publishers remained primarily interested in coverage of ongoing crises – particularly overlooked crises – and stories amplifying voices and stories from the field, followed by expert analysis, solutions-oriented coverage, and investigative and enterprise reporting.
In one of the final questions in our survey, we asked readers for one thing they’d like to see us improve. They offered a number of suggestions, including expanding the scope of issues we report on, more representation of views from the Global South, collaborations with other newsrooms, more content for younger audiences, and connecting with the academic world. This feedback has informed our work plan for 2023.
Help us continue to inform decision-makers in the aid sector
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