Journalist group opens US office

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) is opening a sister organisation in America following a rapid period of expansion and development of its services in war-torn areas across the globe.

"After 11 September we had to ditch our gradualist policy and simply find the capacity to expand our programmes into areas such as Afghanistan," said Tony Borden, executive director at IWPR.

"The new office signifies a new era for us and it's a great opportunity to reach a wide base of support and get our operations out to more global areas of conflict."

Set up as a completely independent organisation, the US operation will have limited overlap with its UK counterpart in terms of projects and funding. However, the charity will not duplicate senior management roles, and directors in the UK will oversee individual department managers in the American office.

The IWPR was set up in 1992 to give a voice to local journalists working in areas of conflict. It has since moved into training and development programmes and intends to launch a raft of programmes including a mentor initiative, which will see experienced journalists communicating with younger field reporters via the internet.

Future plans include exploring the possibility of launching projects in Iraq and hopes to develop training programmes for journalists working throughout Africa. Other alternative routes of funding include moving into commissioned research and developing its membership base.

After seeing its funding double within three years, the charity is completely overhauling its management structure in order to clarify management responsibilities and ensure that project managers working in areas such as Central Asia and Kosovo have clearly defined points of contact in the UK.

In order to support new initiatives such as the recent expansion into Afghanistan, the charity is also looking to move into public fundraising to decrease its reliance on grant and statutory funding.

It will initially concentrate on forging strong corporate partnerships with organisations working in international media or development, and will consolidate existing relationships with companies such as law firm H20 which provide pro bono assistance with libel issues.

"We had to sit down and think really hard about our aims for the next five years," said Borden.

"We need to keep focussed on our local missions and ensure that we can always deliver what we promise, but at the same time it is patently obvious that we can provide services that simply don't exist in this field."

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