A picture is worth a thousand tweets

2 December, 2011
Bath-time at a site for displaced families in Man, Côte d’Ivoire. The civil war that followed the presidential election in November 2010 displaced almost a million people, including more than 700,000 within or from Abidjan, and 150,000 in the west of the country. Credit: IRIN/Nancy Palus
Bath-time at a site for displaced families in Man, Côte d’Ivoire. The civil war that followed the presidential election in November 2010 displaced almost a million people, including more than 700,000 within or from Abidjan, and 150,000 in the west of the country. Credit: IRIN/Nancy Palus

Maybe it's time to update the old cliché: after all, who reads 1,000 words these days?

A toddler from Cote d'Ivoire bathes in a bucket - his family just one of thousands displaced in election-related violence in 2011. His expression... -- that's already over the limit for Twitter and text messaging.

So here it is: a picture is worth more than: 140 characters.

From 140-character tweets to 24 minute documentaries, OCHA's IRIN news and analysis service uses a range of genres and media platforms to tell the story of humanitarian needs and response - in English , French and Arabic .  Most recently, IRIN has released mobile-friendly sites in all three languages for users on the move.

The unique IRIN service provides specialist news and analysis on humanitarian issues to an audience of millions, covering issues and parts of the world too often neglected or under-reported. Its team of professional writers and editors, with an extensive network of freelance correspondents, scour the trouble spots of the world for insight and developments of relevance to the humanitarian enterprise, and present the facts and trends in an accessible, readable style.

IRIN's photo library is one of its core services, providing a collection of thousands of catalogued high-quality pictures sourced from IRIN staff and freelancer photographers. As well as illustrating articles on the IRIN site, high-resolution downloads are available for free use by other humanitarian non-profit agencies - some 10,000 such downloads have been recorded in 2011. IRIN's photos have won a range of awards and have provided high-impact visuals to the publications of numerous leading organizations.

A central part of OCHA's mandate is to raise awareness of the needs of millions of people struggling to survive full blown crises, as well as to signal new emergencies and monitor parts of the world recovering from previous disasters. In a high-speed ultra-connected world, attention is in short supply. With a range of services and through multiple platforms, OCHA seeks to reach out to decision-makers and the general public with authoritative and credible data and information about needs and disaster response.

The IRIN service compliments OCHA's technical reporting with thought-provoking articles, photos, films, and convenient weekly updates.

Finding ways to raise the profile of humanitarian crises in the torrent of modern media demands flexibility and creativity: and sometimes a single arresting image can do more to bring home the human reality of a crisis than reams of reports.

A selection of IRIN's most powerful photos is currently on display in the UN headquarters in Geneva (the E building of the Palais des Nations) until late January and is also available online . The exhibit was launched by OCHA and the UN Office at Geneva as part of the run-up to Humanitarian Week, a series of end-year events to highlight humanitarian issues at the UN.

From a rain-sodden family making a living on the streets of Mogadishu to a bowl of grain in Nepal, the photos highlight a wide range of today's most pressing crises around the world.

Keyword search