(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

We are one of the few media outlets that consistently serve as a watchdog over the nearly $30 billion humanitarian sector.

Have a great idea for an investigation?

Tell us more. The New Humanitarian is looking for tips or freelance pitches for investigations that examine all aspects of the humanitarian sector. Who are the winners and losers in humanitarian crises? How have organisations or people abused their positions of power? Has money been wasted or squandered through corruption? Are there systemic problems that perpetuate crises or prevent assistance from reaching the most vulnerable? Your investigative story could help the people who need it the most.

We cover an array of issues including migration, health, conflict, aid policy and practice, and environmental hazards and displacement. Contact us using one of the following options, which can help keep your communications private:

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At the core of our coverage is how people’s lives are upended by crisis, and our investigative reports are key to this work. Our coverage broadly falls into five main areas – aid policy and practice, conflict, the environment and disasters, migration, and health emergencies. We’ve also identified 10 crises and trends we’re watching in 2019, topics that offer fertile ground for investigative pitches. For more on TNH investigations read below.

Investigations that inspired us

Investigations that examine the humanitarian sector are few and far between, leaving fertile ground for you to help us to explore the aid sector. That said, there have been a few recent projects that we’ve noticed and may inspire you. They include:

  • Immunity for international organizations has been the subject of many recent headlines, but the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists took a deeper look.
  • Equally, military and intelligence aid is weighed against humanitarian aid in another investigation spearheaded by the ICIJ.
  • As the effects of climate change drive migration around the world and increase conflict, data- and detail-driven investigations have shown how governments are losing the battle.
  • Past forensic investigations helped track U.S. planes used to fly terror suspects to CIA black sites. In this investigation, those same investigative techniques were used to expose foreign military involvement in conflicts.
  • An investigation by The New York Times looked at how U.S. troops were treated for post-traumatic stress, but how is mental health addressed for the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises?
  • And what fuels many of these crises in the first place? The Miami Herald took a look in this focused interactive investigation.
  • How many patients are being held hostage in hospitals after not paying their bills? An investigation by The Associated Press revealed the practice in more than 30 countries.
  • Ever wonder what the life cycle of a bomb looks like and how it affects those who cross its path? The New York Times excelled in this example of investigative storytelling. CNN, too, offered another glimpse in their investigation.
  • UN sexual abuse has made headlines for years. At TNH, we were ahead of the curve with our look at sexual abuse at Oxfam.
  • Another of ours included a data-driven look at how the UN paid a blacklisted diamond company that appeared on its own sanction list for fuelling the bloody conflict in Central African Republic.
  • Myanmar has been in the headlines in recent years. Take a look at Reuters’ investigation into abuses against the Rohingya.
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Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between an investigation and other stories?

Investigative work is in-depth and original reporting that starts with a premise and ends with a set of findings or revelations. Your work must reveal something that is new or little-known. Think in-depth scoops rather than chronicles of a situation. Feature stories that lack systematic, sustained reporting generally fall outside of what we consider investigative. The best investigations spur change or have potential for impact.

What makes a good investigation for TNH?

Good investigations are original, timely and offer a thorough look at an issue and why it matters. Through our investigations, we aim to be ahead of the curve by uncovering new patterns, trends or problems that will inform the response to humanitarian crises as well as policy and practice. We are committed to shining a light on the humanitarian sector, “following the money” and offering on-the-ground scrutiny of how those in need are being served. Investigative pieces might be driven by documents, data sets, whistle blower scoops or a unique window into a community, government, organisation or other entities.

We deliver in-depth coverage to our core audience within the humanitarian sector, but we also hope that by offering impactful investigations with powerful multimedia components such as audio, photos, graphics or video, that our audience will grow.

How does the pitch process work?

The first step is to either use our Google Form or to send a pitch to our encrypted Protonmail account: [email protected]. We accept investigative pitches on a rolling basis. From time to time, however, we may ask for special pitches focused on specific topics within a given time frame.

Expect to hear back from us within a week.

Our pitch form asks a series of straightforward questions to gauge the project’s originality, competitiveness, what’s needed, projected costs and whether it fits within our coverage.

We encourage you to include a detailed budget so we can evaluate the project’s financial requirements and begin to identify funding sources as needed.

Before we accept your pitch, we will discuss timelines, approaches, security considerations, budgets, presentation and multimedia components. We will also discuss guidelines on word length, formatting and sourcing. Once we give you the greenlight, you will be working closely with an editor and other members of our team as the project progresses.

Who can pitch?

Both current and past contributors as well as new freelancers who have a track record of breaking news or who have exceptional access to sources or documents within a specific area may pitch. If we have not worked with you before, please include links to your most recent and relevant work as well as a CV or link to a biographical page.

Does The New Humanitarian do reporting projects with partners?

Yes, we welcome ideas for collaborative reporting with media and other organizations. We seek partners that add specialized know-how and access or that offer expanded distribution to wide and influential audiences that will help get your work noticed. Such partnerships should advance our core coverage and include equitable cost sharing and editorial collaboration.

What's the pay rate for investigations?

Our rates for stories are .40 cents per published word and $30 per image – slightly above general industry rates. Lengths on investigative stories range from 1,800 to 5,000 words.

For lengthy and multifaceted projects, we are open to negotiating a fee structure that recognizes the time and expertise involved. We will also negotiate per-project rates for photo, video or multimedia projects.

Additional resources may be considered for research, legal considerations and data analysis and/or visualisation.

What's required when reporting for TNH?

As a non-profit newsroom, we adhere to the highest journalistic ethics and standards of practice and require our contributors to do the same. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Exercising fairness, accuracy and impartiality by offering context, a right of response, transparency in sourcing and a balanced approach
  • Exercising political, corporate or cultural independence and neutrality by disclosing affiliations and/or conflicts of interest ahead of any assignment
  • Abiding by local laws
  • Not paying for information
  • Doing no harm – this holds especially true for covering vulnerable communities

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