In 2008, Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) will strengthen its editorial management and direction to ensure that its reporting continues to provide an indispensable news and analysis service. It will aim to produce high quality, timely and relevant content on humanitarian concerns and trends, particularly in evolving or neglected crises. More audiovisual content is planned to communicate better on humanitarian issues, particularly to a growing online audience. (View Map)
With its new presence in Bangkok, Thailand, co-located with
the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, IRIN will extend
its South-East Asia coverage to provide greater insight into humanitarian concerns and disaster response in the
region. In early 2008, IRIN’s Asia coverage – which currently includes Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – will
be extended to Indonesia, with other countries to be added later in the year depending on priorities and resources.
PlusNews, IRIN’s HIV/AIDS news service, is also expanding its coverage to include South-East Asia and countries of
concern in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A management review in August 2007 redefined the IRIN Radio strategy for 2008–09. (table) The new approach will concentrate on the most vulnerable crisis-affected communities in which access to news and information is limited and where IRIN considers it can make the most difference to lives and livelihoods. As a result IRIN Radio is now being included as a key component in IRIN’s overall work plan and in the IRIN budget. Drawing on its humanitarian, editorial and radio production expertise, IRIN will provide humanitarian radio content in Afghanistan and Somalia as well as other crisis-affected communities according to defined criteria that reflect OCHA and IASC priorities. Existing radio projects in locations no longer considered humanitarian priorities, such as Liberia, Angola and Burundi, will be phased out or handed over to partner agencies. (table)
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A broader priority for IRIN in 2008 is to improve its capacity to produce and deliver relevant content to its readership. As IRIN strives to gain a better insight into the needs of its evolving audience, a well-defined marketing strategy will be key to achieving this – ensuring that its product remains highly informative and directly relevant to its readership’s requirements.
|Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues|
|Editorial management strengthened for consistent, relevant, quality news and analysis on humanitarian issues and concerns. More audiovisual content introduced to complement main text reporting. IRIN news and analysis expanded in South-East Asia, providing greater insight into disaster responses, humanitarian crises and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.||Number of text reports and amount of multimedia content produced on humanitarian events, trends and policy issues in South-East asia, including HIV/AIDS issues. Number of new countries in south-east asia added to current coverage portfolio.|
|More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues|
|Vulnerable communities in Afghanistan and Somalia (and two other selected countries, to be determined in early 2008) provided with information on key issues that affect local lives and livelihoods. Local perspectives and views reflected in text reports and multimedia content aimed at national and global audiences. News content and analysis better tailored to core and new audiences.||Number of radio broadcasts that reach affected communities. Number of online text reports and amount of multimedia content reflecting local perspectives and views. Market research and audience survey conducted in 2008 provides greater insight into IRIN’s audience.|
What is IRIN ?
IRIN supports OCHA’s mandate by providing high quality humanitarian news, analysis and advocacy materials that help the humanitarian community better understand, anticipate and respond to new and evolving crises. This coverage provides IRIN’s readership with succinct contextual and analytical information, with an emphasis on crises that are neglected or overlooked.
Established in response to the 1994 Great Lakes crisis, today IRIN is the leading provider of humanitarian news and analysis in Africa and the Middle East and, as of 2008, it is expanding in Asia. Its coverage helps to establish a common understanding of key humanitarian concerns, as its reports, photographs and films are widely used by policymakers in the humanitarian and donor communities and by the United Nations, NGOs, think tanks and the international media.
IRIN also serves as an important link to those affected by crises. IRIN’s radio programming provides communities with access to neutral and reliable information that aims to counter misinformation or propaganda, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their lives. In addition, the series of ‘Hear Our Voices’ articles brings the views and concerns of crisis-affected people to a global audience.
While IRIN’s annual website readership is estimated to be 1 million, millions more access IRIN through reprints in newspapers, magazines, television, radio and many other popular internet-based services, such as AllAfrica.com (the largest provider of African news), Reuters AlertNet, ReliefWeb and AEGiS (the largest aggregator of HIV/AIDS information).
In 2007, IRIN launched a new website with a clearer design and enhanced functionality. That year saw a 16 per cent rise to around 46,000 email subscribers, indicating growing interest and confidence in IRIN products. IRIN has an extensive online presence: a recent Google search linked 370,000 pages to the IRIN website, while 1.9 million pages made reference to IRIN as a source.
Editorial coverage is provided by a network of over 140 staff and freelance correspondents, based either in the main offices – Nairobi, Dakar, Johannesburg and Dubai – or elsewhere in the regions covered by IRIN. A presence in Bangkok was established in November 2007, with more extensive coverage of South-East Asia planned for 2008.
New editorial strategy: A new editorial strategy guided the news and analysis output of IRIN during 2007. The key elements of that strategy are that IRIN should focus tightly on the humanitarian agenda, provide greater depth and analysis, pay rigorous attention to quality and accuracy, and at the same time display a willingness to re-think formats, genres and styles to suit different audiences and media.
As part of this new strategy, IRIN has begun producing shorter videos for a younger, web-savvy audience. Better planning has also led to more integrated multimedia coverage, especially on key themes such as 2007’s focus on the humanitarian aspects of urbanization and special coverage of the impact of the northern Uganda peace process.
Arabic language website: In 2007 IRIN launched an Arabic language website as a way of helping to connect the Islamic and Western humanitarian worlds. Around 15 reports are produced each week, many of which are re-posted by Arabic newspapers and websites. A number of IRIN films have been translated into Arabic, and they have been widely distributed and broadcast.
IRIN at a glance
New films: In 2007 IRIN produced four films, with another due for completion soon. Released in October 2007, Slum Survivors – IRIN’s first full-length 45-minute documentary – explores life in Kibera slum in Nairobi and highlights the growing challenges of urbanization. The three other recently released films address: the plight of people in Somalia faced with more political upheaval; the desperate conditions for women in Afghanistan; and the challenges facing the people of northern Uganda as peace talks continue. In 2008, IRIN’s films will be freely downloadable from its website – making it easier to share and screen films for advocacy and awareness-raising worldwide.
Expanded HIV/AIDS coverage: PlusNews is IRIN’s specialist content provider for the HIV/AIDS crisis. An estimated two thirds of the global burden of HIV infection occurs in countries also affected by complex emergencies. In recognition of the fact that populations destabilized by conflict and natural disasters are at increased risk of the spread of HIV/AIDS, PlusNews is extending its coverage to new areas, starting with Colombia, Haiti and Indonesia.
Radio – a new integrated and focused approach: In 2007 IRIN refined its radio strategy to focus on providing humanitarian radio programmes to communities in the most vulnerable crisis-affected countries. Where an IRIN radio service exists, it will be closely integrated with the text reporting service, so that news and analysis can be readily exchanged and shared with local and global audiences simultaneously.
Priorities in 2008 include Afghanistan and Somalia, where crisis-affected communities need better access to news and information. IRIN will increase the reach of its vernacular radio services using shortwave broadcasts, while at the same time bringing local perspectives to the attention of international audiences through on-demand audio files and podcasts.