02 April 2014

News: IRIN's Future in Question?

UPDATE (4 April 2014): IRIN has now released a statement about its plans for the future.

This 2005 article in Forced Migration Review describes the accomplishments of IRIN, the well-known and well-regarded humanitarian news service, during its first 10 years of operation.  But it might not be around to celebrate its 20th anniversary: A petition to "Save IRIN" that is currently circulating indicates that "IRIN’s parent organization in the UN has decided to wind it down."  According to numerous tweets, this will likely take place by the end of the year.

IRIN's parent organization is the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA).  I have not seen an official announcement regarding IRIN's future.  However, this recent article from Foreign Policy provides some context for IRIN's situation, noting that an internal review of IRIN is currently under way and that as a result of some of its findings, "U.N. officials said OCHA is considering shutting down IRIN or sharply scaling back its activities by the end of the year." (OCHA's "Call for Expressions of Interest" to undertake this internal evaluation is available on ALNAP.) 

An earlier external evaluation conducted in 2003 concluded the following: "Most importantly, the evaluation found that IRIN content informs the decision-making of a wide range of stakeholders. This alone is so compelling an attribute that it places IRIN in a position of unique value and demonstrated competence as an essential element in humanitarian coordination efforts."

OCHA's most recent Annual Report indicates that IRIN has continued to reach a wide and diverse audience (p. 22):
"IRIN's readership continued to grow throughout the year. Its website averaged 775,000 unique visitors a month, with 57,000 email subscribers and 16,400 Twitter followers.  New syndication agreements with online media in the north and global south, plus links to think-tanks and research bodies, adds to IRIN's diversifying audience as does its unique humanitarian Arabic-language service."
Moreover, a readership survey conducted in the Spring of 2012 found that a majority of respondents felt IRIN's content had a positive impact on their work.

I was one of them! Search for IRIN on this blog and you will see that I frequently reference its news reports. Its demise would leave a big gap in my information-sharing activities.  I sincerely hope this valuable information resource will make it to 2015 - and beyond.

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