Mainstream media coverage of humanitarian issues remains inadequate in both quality and quantity – while The New Humanitarian’s reporting on crises is increasingly relevant to both a specialist humanitarian audience and the wider general public, according to findings from our 2020 audience survey conducted in March 2020.

Nearly 1,400 readers from 122 countries answered the call to give us feedback on our work and the wider spectrum of humanitarian journalism, with nearly two-thirds telling us that mainstream media coverage of humanitarian issues is inadequate in both quantity and quality.

While The New Humanitarian has historically been the “go to” read for humanitarian professionals and policymakers, there is growing appetite for our journalism across a far broader spectrum of readers.

Some 84% of respondents said our coverage is relevant for a specialist humanitarian audience, while almost two-thirds said our content is accessible to a wider public. Meanwhile, 28.5% of readers said that TNH is a daily read for them, up from 15.5% in 2018.

Interest in humanitarian issues is growing. Our audience has tripled since the COVID-19 pandemic struck – with more than 600,000 users visiting our website in May 2020.

Who reads The New Humanitarian?

The New Humanitarian is a source of news for humanitarian decision makers and practitioners, as well as anyone with an interest in humanitarian issues — everyone from development workers and government officials to teachers, students, journalists, and those in the private sector.


Our readers are often seasoned professionals and leaders in their field – 29% are mid career; 40% senior professionals; 11% executive management/C-suite – and our work matters to them.

More than 70% of respondents indicated that TNH is important to their work, reiterating our findings from our 2018 survey, with almost 90% of journalists saying that our coverage has prompted them to look into a topic.

Almost 70% of humanitarians said that TNH content has stimulated further research or advocacy, aligning with other findings about TNH content being a starting point for further conversation.

In line with our mission, readers see us as a world-class news organisation (88.76% agreed or strongly agreed) and a place for a fresh perspective, modern take (83.1% agreed or strongly agreed).

Furthermore, almost a quarter of humanitarians surveyed say our content has helped inform organisational and operational priorities, influenced decisions to undertake a needs assessment, or led organisations to push for internal or external policy change.

Readers value our journalism for a number of different reasons

  • Consistent coverage of ongoing crises and issues (78%)
  • Voices and stories from the field (75%)
  • Expert analysis (72%)
  • Investigative reporting (67%)
  • Impartial, neutral reporting (66%)
  • Early warning and crisis alerts (58%)
  • Real-time and breaking news (56%)
  • Solutions-oriented coverage (53%)

How our journalism has impacted our readers’ work

  • 39% of respondents said TNH is extremely or very important to their work, 42% said it was somewhat important.
  • 69% said that TNH stimulated further research and/or advocacy.
  • 24% said that TNH informed organisational and operational priorities, including the deployment of staff or resources.
  • 22% said that TNH influenced a decision to undertake a needs assessment.
  • 20% said that TNH led them or their organisation to push for internal or external policy change.
  • 11% said that TNH Influenced a funding decision at their institution or organisation.

Why do people read The New Humanitarian?

We pride ourselves on providing the kind of coverage of humanitarian crises that gets to the heart of the issues that are impacting the world today.

More than 70% of respondents said that The New Humanitarian both reports on issues and from locations that other news outlets do not.

More than 60% of respondents said that The New Humanitarian publishes investigations into the aid sector that are hard to find elsewhere, offers expert analysis and opinion unavailable elsewhere, and understands the humanitarian sector better than other news outlets.

TNH readers most frequently come to us for our reporting on conflict and policy, while more than half are also interested in success stories and best practices, development, peacebuilding and other “nexus” issues, climate change and displacement.

In their own words, readers told us why mainstream media coverage of crises just doesn’t cut it:

“I think mainstream media houses focus on more day-to-day stories and commercial adverts as opposed to TNH which follows up a story to get to its heart.”

“Mainstream media struggle to move beyond simplified, cliché narratives when covering humanitarian topics, even when covering general foreign affairs.”

“[On mainstream media]: Lack of deep insight; not close enough to the field; too often full of clichés/lack of differentiation.“

“TNH is one place I can count on to always be relevant, to give me info I couldn't have found otherwise (or without much more effort), and that will help me stay at the bleeding edge of my field.”

“TNH provides on-the-ground information that other outlets just don't provide. TNH will have a report from someone in let's just say South Sudan, while most outlets will have a report on South Sudan, but written from South Africa.”


Describe TNH in 3 words

Words our readers use to describe The New Humanitarian.

Help us do more of this

As we continue to grow and provide more of the kind of coverage our readers value and can’t find anywhere else, we’re faced with the reality that quality journalism is under threat. As a nonprofit, independent news outlet, we know this pressure as well as anyone.

Our readers often ask us about the best way to support our work and get more involved, and so it’s with that in mind that we launched a new way to both support us and get more involved in our community: membership.

For as little as $5 a month, you can support quality independent journalism and become part of a growing community of people with a shared interest in humanitarianism: you’ll receive a members’ newsletter; you’ll have access to our team via an online channel, Zoom calls, and in-person meet-ups; and you’ll have opportunities to provide input on our work.

Find out more

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.