Values Exchange

The New Humanitarian

6 Nov 2023
Senior Thinker (2631 XP)
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The New Humanitarian



What we do

The New Humanitarian puts quality, independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world. We report from the heart of conflicts and disasters to inform prevention and response.

As the trusted news source on humanitarian crises, we deliver the authentic, inside story. Our reporting gives insight to policymakers, practitioners, and others who want to make the world more humane.


Who we are

The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) was founded by the United Nations in 1995, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, out of the conviction that objective on-the-ground reporting of humanitarian crises could help mitigate or even prevent future disasters of that magnitude.

Almost twenty years later, we became an independent non-profit news organisation, allowing us to cast a more critical eye over the multibillion-dollar emergency aid industry and draw attention to its failures at a time of unprecedented humanitarian need. As digital disinformation went global, and mainstream media retreated from many international crisis zones, our field-based, high-quality journalism filled even more of a gap. Today, we are one of only a handful of newsrooms world-wide specialised in covering crises and disasters – and in holding the aid industry accountable.

The number of people to whom the UN delivers aid has more than tripled over the past decade. Climate change, population growth, volatile markets, water scarcity, sectarianism and the burgeoning of armed groups and extremists are pushing more and more communities to the edge. The unprecedented number of concurrent emergencies has exposed serious weaknesses in the current international emergency aid apparatus: financing is unsustainable; local communities do not have enough of a voice; and needs are not adequately met. It is a critical time of change for the multi-billion-dollar international humanitarian sector, which is under pressure to reform the way aid is delivered.


New challenges; a new name and brand identity

It’s in this context that in 2019, we changed our name from IRIN to The New Humanitarian to signal our move from UN project to independent newsroom and our role chronicling the changing nature of – and response to – humanitarian crises.

The New Humanitarian speaks to the profound shifts impacting our world today.

The drivers of humanitarian needs are changing, thanks to new threats like climate change, longer-lasting conflicts, and a geopolitical landscape that makes the resolution of crises at the international level more challenging.

The impacts of humanitarian crises are changing too, becoming more global in their repercussions. The exodus of refugees from Syria is one of many examples.

Traditional forms of humanitarian intervention are bursting at the seams; new approaches and players are emerging to fill an increasing gap between needs and response.

Tackling the world’s crises is no longer the exclusive domain of governments, “Big Aid” and the United Nations -- nor is it only about disaster relief and aid delivery. In many ways, the whole conception of humanitarianism is changing, evidenced by the private sector’s response to refugees; high school students marching for climate change; and local communities reclaiming agency in shaping their own futures. Today, a new generation of humanitarians is redefining the way the world responds to crises – demanding a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation.

We remain the trusted news source for policy-makers and practitioners in humanitarian response, but The New Humanitarian is expanding to reach this wider audience of people who want to better understand our complex world, in order to change it for the better.

The current journalistic model is broken: audiences are demanding that the hierarchical, elite-led system of news gathering and presentation behind journalism be dismantled in favour of a more inclusive and holistic approach based on more equitable access to information and more nuanced and multi-perspective narratives.

There is a growing demand for decolonised, meaningful participatory media spaces – with different power dynamics - and an increasing expectation of journalism as a constructive force for good, rather than simply an “objective” chronicler of the news.

The business model for media is also broken, with many media going bankrupt during the pandemic - despite their information being more valuable than ever - because of a dependence on advertisers.

Finally, exploitative and extractive practices have long been commonplace in media and other businesses.

We think there is a better way. We want to build something different.

Thus, we will continue to produce journalism that can compete with the world's most respected publications, but we will chart our own path in defining what a progressive transformative newsroom means to us.

Our strategy sees us creating that transformation in the following ways:

  • challenging the power structures within journalism, especially how stories are told and who sets the narrative;
  • intentionally pursuing impact as central to the production of our journalism;
  • bolstering our ability to pursue the most challenging stories;
  • developing a viable model of mission-driven journalism on the international stage
  • building a progressive newsroom culture.

Read more about our strategy.

Working with on-the-ground correspondents in dozens of countries and analysts and editors with intimate knowledge of the sector, The New Humanitarian reports from the heart of humanitarian crises and global policy and donor hubs. Our reporting informs humanitarian need and response, amplifies the voices of those on the ground and holds the sector accountable to itself, its funders and the communities it serves.

Our coverage takes a holistic view of humanitarian crises, from emerging conflicts to the human face of climate change, from refugee movements to disease outbreaks. We also cover the policy and practice of humanitarian response, from local responders to the particular needs of women and girls to the responsible use of technology and data to the financing of aid work. We are there before, during and after; providing early warning when a crisis is brewing and sticking around long after most camera crews have packed up and left. We are committed to keeping neglected crises in the media spotlight and on the policy agenda. Our work always includes a multiplicity of voices, first and foremost those on the ground, be they people whose lives are uprooted or those trying to help.

In addition to our daily multimedia news reports, we curate in-depth topical collections of our coverage and feature diverse voices in opinion essays, Q&As and interviews. We highlight our work in newsletters, webinars and special events.





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