Charities struggle to secure media coverage

Focus on domestic news means fewer column inches for international development stories, say NGOs

International development charities are finding it increasingly difficult to secure media coverage of their work because of the recession.

Charities contacted by Third Sector said the focus on domestic news meant newspapers had significantly less space for international development stories.

A spokeswoman for Tearfund said: "Media outlets are struggling for advertising revenue, so there are fewer column inches. It has become difficult to place a story about one of our development projects, so we are working hard to find international angles in domestic stories."

The charity was increasingly targeting niche publications and digital PR instead of traditional media outlets such as national newspapers, she said.

A spokeswoman for Oxfam said the media was increasingly preoccupied with recession-related news, so there was less space for stories about international development. "More of our time is spent doing reactive work - dealing with questions about how charities are coping during the downturn," she said. "There is less interest in the projects we are actually facilitating."

Newspapers were more reluctant to send journalists on international press trips because of financial concerns, according to a spokeswoman for Christian Aid. "It's not that people don't want the stories. It's just that the figures often don't add up.

"We have had to put in a lot more calls than normal to secure media partners for press trips," she said. "Newspapers are undoubtedly suffering from falling advertising revenue, so they are cutting costs and may not be in a position to cover the expense of sending reporters abroad.

Press officers at international charities needed a stronger UK "hook" for their stories than ever before, she said.

Richard Askwith, associate editor of the Independent, said: We are still very interested in foreign stories. The difficulty is justifying the expense of sending people on long trips, because there is, in effect, a double cost: first the cost of the actual travel and secondly the cost of that person being unavailable for any other work for several days.


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