How INGOs can embrace the changing media landscape

The pandemic has transformed the media landscape, accelerating the shift to digital and remote story gathering practices. Chloe Choppen, author of IBT’s latest report The Media: Where Next? outlines some of the key recommendations for INGOs hoping to take advantage of these changes.


Reshaped by shifting priorities, tightened budgets and a conveyor belt of changing lockdown restrictions, newsrooms and media organisations all over the world have had to adapt to survive. All of these changes have major implications for INGOs wishing to use the media to tell their stories. In our new report, The Media: Where Next? we have tracked the changes that have taken place and identified some key ways that INGOs can take advantage of them to engage more effectively with audiences. Here are our top five recommendations:

1. Embrace change

The pandemic has accelerated key trends that were already taking place across the media. This includes the faster adoption of digital, a move to remote storytelling techniques and a drive towards formats that build stronger connections with audiences online, like digital subscriptions, podcasts and newsletters. Keeping on top of these trends and adapting new storytelling techniques will allow INGOs to tap into the increased potential for engaging more deeply with audiences.

2. Create space for more voices

Worldwide travel restrictions have forced the media and INGOs to move away from relying on UK-based staff to gather international stories. Communication and media teams have successfully adapted, working with a wider range of freelancers, in-country talent, and user-generated content. When the UK’s travel restrictions are finally lifted, it is important that we don’t return to the old methods of gathering stories and instead use this as an opportunity to continue to collaborate and create space for a greater variety of voices.

3. Prioritise how stories are told

Think carefully about how you represent people in your stories. Comic Relief has responded to the ‘white saviour’ row and revised its approach, challenging others in the sector to rethink long established fundraising techniques. To do this effectively, it’s crucial to consider both how stories are told and how they are gathered. Establishing robust, informed consent gathering processes will ensure best ethical practice as well as promote more nuanced storytelling. In an increasingly distrusting media landscape, NGOs must work harder to signal their credibility and transparency to audiences.

4. Take advantage of new formats

Social media moves fast. To improve digital engagement organisations must be willing to adopt more flexible, trial-and-error approaches to storytelling. This is especially true of quick turnaround video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels where establishing processes that allow social media teams to react quickly to trends are vital for reaching audiences. Meanwhile, formats like podcasts and newsletters provide an opportunity for INGOs to demonstrate their expertise, credibility and deepen audience engagement.

5. Collaborate with the media

INGOs should encourage more collaborative relationships with the media, rather than the transactional approach that has developed over recent years. In the changing media landscape, where broadcasters are increasingly limited on resources, INGOs have a lot to offer. Whether that means leaning into the sector’s wealth of experience in interpreting scientific data, or working together to provide a platform for more diverse voices as broadcasters come under pressure to achieve wider representation.


The Media: Where Next? outlines in more detail how events over the past year have impacted the media landscape, what this means for the INGO sector, and how charities can take advantage of the accelerated shift towards digital and embrace new storytelling formats.

The report is now available to download for IBT members.

Comic Relief is right to stop sending celebrities to Africa

Comic Relief’s decision to no longer send celebrities to African nations as part of its fundraising appeals is a welcome move, and will hopefully go some way towards dispelling the myths that exist around Africa, says Chine Mcdonald.

In the year I was born, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure got their pop star friends together, including U2’s Bono, Sting, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, to create a song to help raise money for those affected by the famine in Ethiopia. Their efforts are of course to be applauded, but the problem is that no song in popular culture in my lifetime has done more to propagate a problematic picture of Africa than Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

I’ll admit it, the song used to be one of my Christmas favourites. Its catchiness masks its deeply warped view of what Africa is actually like. I remember when the penny dropped, and I stopped singing it. I realised that the ‘Africa’ sung about by these 1980s pop stars bore little resemblance to the continent I knew.

“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (Ooh)

Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”

They had got one thing right: snow was unlikely, but my family back home in Nigeria were full of life. When I think about nothing growing, nor rain falling, my mind harks back to the images of lush greenness I have seen as the plane makes its descent into Port Harcourt. I remember the times of being caught in the heavy downpours during the rainy season. None of these are the first things that come to mind when most British people think of Africa. The narrative is of the desolate place described in the Band Aid single.

It’s time to move away from the “single story”

As Mark Curtis, director of the World Development Movement, said when the song was re-released for a new generation in 2004: “It conjures up an image of a continent inhabited entirely by starving children with flies on their faces sitting in the sun-baked bed of a dried up stream.” This is not to deny that many countries in Africa do experience drought and famine and are facing the full effects of climate change as a present reality. What is missing, however, is room for both the luscious greens and the parched landscapes to exist.

The irony of the question ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’being posed in a charity single to help during the Ethiopian famine is that Christianity, the reason for Christmas, existed in Ethiopia centuries before Europeans arrived, Bibles in hand. Two thirds of modern-day Ethiopians are Christian, with the majority of those belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – one of the oldest organised Christian groups in the world. They know it’s Christmas.

Being an African and a British charity fundraiser is sometimes a strange place to be. My day job is to help find ways to tell stories that help members of the public see the desperate need that exists for people in some of the poorest and most marginalised communities around the world. But all my life I have struggled with what author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls this “single story” perpetuated about Africa.

The international development sector has some part to play in having, for decades, presented a single story of people from African nations. That’s why I’m so glad that Comic Relief has announced it will no longer send celebrities to Africa and are choosing to reimagine their use of imagery and video, using work from African film-makers to tell their own stories of the need that they see through their own eyes.

Tell stories that draw on our shared humanity, not our differences

We who work within development have been having conversations for years, challenging ourselves to do better when it comes to our depictions of the communities we work with, thinking differently about the language we use in our fundraising appeals.

At Christian Aid, our imagery aims to present people with dignity, and we are extremely thankful for the generosity of our churches and supporters who give to our work – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a charity fundraiser, I want us to tell stories that draw on our shared humanity, not our difference, that elicit not just pity in the prospective donor, but an empathy that comes from knowing that these are people made in the image of God just like us. We are not superior. We are not the saviour. We join in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world and rage at the injustice that sees them caught up by broken economic systems, conflict and humanitarian disaster.

I think we need to give the British public far more credit; they are able to understand stories with more texture, complexity and nuance and still be compelled to give. We don’t have to choose lazy tropes and stereotypes that put forward simple and binary stories.

As Adichie said in her TED talk The Danger of a Single Story: “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”



This article originally appeared on Premier Christianity. Find out more or subscribe to Premier Christianity magazine here.

International content for children prioritised in the YACF’s first round of funding

The £57m Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF) has announced its first slate of production and development awards, and we are pleased to see a clear focus on content that informs children about the wider world.

For this first installment, the YACF will be co-funding a mix of nine series and specials, across six broadcasters (Channel 5, ITV, BBC ALBA, S4C, TG4 and Sky), which successfully respond to the areas of concern outlined by Ofcom’s Children’s Content Review earlier this year.

Since the launch of our ‘The Challenge of Children’s TV’ report in April, we have been working with broadcasters and the YACF to ensure that quality international content is prioritised as part of the Fund’s output. As such, we are delighted to see that with support from the Fund, Sky News’ FYI will be expanding its offering with FYI Specials (Fresh Start Media).

Developed for 8-11 year-olds, these documentary specials will tackle knife crime, diversity, climate change and mental health. In addition Fresh Start will create a set of I Don’t Get It explainers, looking at the big issues kids care about along with seven short films, Kidversations which look at children’s lives across the world. Driven by topics that are relevant to kids, the shows will be available to over 10,000 classrooms via First News and will air on Sky News – an Ofcom regulated and free to access channel – and available online. Following a short holdback, all content will be available on Sky Kids to view on demand.

Lucy Murphy, Head of Kids Content at SKY, commented: “Kids care passionately about what’s going on in the world and we’re delighted that the funding from the BFI YACF will allow us to produce relevant and timely programming.”

Since its launch in April, the Fund has received over 120 applications, showing a clear enthusiasm from the sector, and the breadth and quality of the productions announced in this first round of funding is very encouraging. We look forward to seeing what else is in the pipeline!


Read more about our The Challenge of Children’s TV report.

IBT Members’ Survey 2019

Thanks to all those who completed our members’ survey. IBT is a membership-based organization so it’s important that we hear from our members on a regular basis.

The survey identified the briefings with media as the most valuable aspect of our work but members also recognized the value of our advocacy such as our recent campaign for international coverage to be included in children’s television. This work continues as we are in regular touch with all the children’s public service broadcasters and with the new young audience’s content fund.


View survey findings


Would you like to become more involved with IBT?

We are recruiting two new Trustees to join our Board later this year.

IBT is a registered charity and the Board plays an important role in setting our strategy and ensuring that we are achieving our strategic goals.  Applicants do not need previous experience of being a Trustee. We seek to recruit a diverse Board with a range of skills and we are always keen to recruit IBT members who are familiar with our work and attend our events.

If you have any questions please contact Mark Galloway, IBT’s Executive Director

Download Application Pack

The deadline for applications is Friday September 27th.

Children’s content receives a boost

We continue to work with broadcasters to encourage them to improve their international content aimed at children.

This week, the regulator, Ofcom, responded positively to the proposals put forward by the commercial public service broadcasters to beef up their children’s content.  One of the deficits identified by Ofcom in its previous content review was ‘a limited range of children’s programmes that help children to understand the world around them.’

We are delighted to see that the new content proposed by the commercial public service broadcasters includes a new news and current affairs strand aimed at older children to be made by ITV News.

You can read Ofcom’s full response here.

IBT Responds to the BBC’s Decision on the Age-Related Television Licence Fee Concession

BBC logo


IBT members understand the very difficult position that the BBC’s board sought to navigate in deciding on the future of the age-related television licence-fee concession for over-75s. We welcome the fact that pensioners in receipt of the Pension Credit will be eligible to apply for a free television licence. There are important limitations inherent in any means-testing system, and this should be monitored closely as there is a real risk that vulnerable people may miss out on the vital companionship and the window television offers into the wider world because they cannot afford to pay for a television licence, or they struggle with the process of applying for Pension Credit.


IBT members have always maintained that decisions about welfare spending should be for government and we believe it is not too late for the UK Government to step in and finance the full cost of the television licence fee concession for over-75s.


This decision will also have serious implications for the BBC’s budget, estimated at up to £250m by 2021/22 at a time when the BBC faces intense global competition from other providers and should be investing in, rather than cutting services.


We urge the BBC and the UK Government to learn important lessons from this process including the need to ensure that the next BBC licence fee settlement is conducted in a spirit of openness and transparency. The public should have a voice in these important decisions that affect so many of our lives.


For more information, please contact Lorriann Robinson:

BBC urged to stand ground on over-75 licence fees


This week, Broadcast published a news piece outlining IBT’s call for the BBC to “be brave” and refuse to fund licence fees for over-75s.


In an open letter to the BBC Board, the media education charity [IBT] joined the chorus of public figures and bodies that have condemned the UK government for passing a “decision about a welfare concession” to the BBC.

Max Goldbart, Broadcast


In the article, Broadcast highlight our support of the continuation of a free television licence for people aged over 75, but that the government should be responsible for financing the licence fee exemption, not the BBC.

Read the letter in full below:


An Open Letter to the BBC’s Board

We have a simple message for the BBC Board as members prepare for final deliberations and a decision on the future of the age-related television licence fee concession: be brave, and back the BBC.

Decisions about welfare concessions should be taken by government and as members of the BBC Board you are in an unfair and unenviable position.

We believe the television licence fee concession for people aged over-75 should continue, and as now, the concession should be funded by government.

But the government will only take on this responsibility if the BBC’s board acts with courage, takes the difficult decision and refuses to finance the television licence fee concession in 2020, or beyond.

UK audiences deserve access to high quality television content about global issues, including content that informs the public about the developing world, its people and the issues that affect their lives.

From showing us Africa with Ade Adepitan, to the Blue Planet series; the BBC is often the only free to view broadcaster able to withstand market pressures and consistently produce high quality journalism, factual and non-factual programmes about the world outside the of UK.

There is good evidence that the UK benefits hugely from learning about the global world, but the BBC cannot continue to provide this sort of content if faced with deep cuts to its budget.

There are no pain-free options open to the board. You are likely to face criticism whatever you decide. But after six years where the BBC experienced a real-terms cut to its budget, we feel this is a moment for the board to be brave and make the difficult choice to back the BBC.


Julian Petley, Brunel University
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary, National Union of Journalists
Simon O’Connell, chief executive Mercy Corps
Rose Caldwell, chair, IBT
Lord Melvyn Bragg
Janet Daby MP
Dr Justin Schlosberg, Birkbeck, University of London
Phillipa Childs, head of Bectu


If you would like to add your name to our open letter, please contact


Find Out More     Read Broadcast Article

Shortlist announced for the IBT international TV award


A big thank you to all our members who nominated their favourite international TV programme of 2018.

We now have a shortlist of six programmes for our annual award which we run in conjunction with the influential audience group, Voice of the Listener and Viewer.


The six shortlisted programmes, in alphabetical order, are:


Congratulations to all the shortlisted programmes. The winner will be announced at the VLV Awards on May 9thYou can find out more about the event here.

IBT sponsor an International Television Award



This year IBT are sponsoring an International Television Award in collaboration with Voice of the Listener and Viewer, the well respected audience lobby group.

VLV’s annual awards celebrate the contribution made to the UK by high-quality public service programmes. Our award recognises the best international television programme broadcast in 2018 and the shortlist is decided by IBT’s members.

We are inviting all IBT members to vote for their favourite international TV programme of 2018 from the following longlist:

  • A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad – BBC2
  • Dispatches: Myanmar’s Killing Fields – Channel 4
  • Dispatches: North Korea, Life Inside the Secret State Dispatches – Channel 4
  • Dispatches: UN Sex Abuse – Channel 4
  • Drowning in Plastic – BBC1
  • Escape From Dubai: The Mystery of the Missing Princess – BBC2
  • House of Saud – BBC2
  • Mediterranean With Simon Reeve – BBC2
  • Michael Palin in North Korea – Channel 5
  • Nadiya’s Asian Odyssey – BBC1
  • On Assignment – ITV
  • Stacey Dooley Investigates, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets – BBC3
  • Why Slavery season – BBC4

Last year’s winner, Unreported World, is not eligible for entry this year.

The VLV Awards for Excellence 2018 will be announced on May 9th 2019 at the VLV’s Spring Conference. You can find out more about the event here.


If you are an IBT member and would like to submit your vote for this award, please fill in the voting form emailed to you in the latest newsletter.

Please email if you have not received the voting link.


The Future of Children’s TV

In the spring we will be publishing a new research report that looks at children, how they see the world, where they get their information from, which media they consume and how new media content can be more effectively targeted at children to enable them to be better informed about the rest of the world.

Children’s television is currently under the spotlight. Parliamentarians are increasingly concerned about the quality of life of children growing up in the UK and the Government has recognised that there is market failure in the production of home grown content aimed at children. This means that the market alone is not producing content of sufficient quality and range.

DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) has therefore earmarked the sum of £51m taken from the licence fee to be redirected at children’s content over the next three years.  The Government will be launching a Contestable Fund in April which aims to encourage increased production of content for children by the commercial public service broadcasters (PSBs) – ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

In addition, Ofcom, the media industry regulator, has asked the commercial PSBs to address the current deficit in supply of new UK produced content for children on their channels. They are due to report back to Ofcom with plans by the end of March and Ofcom will publicly report on this in June.

We believe that this makes a report on children’s TV timely as it gives us an opportunity to influence the type of content that the PSBs will be producing. Our goal is that some of this new content will cover global stories and issues, in a way that is accessible and engaging for children of all ages.


Why we need new research

The aim of our new research will be to present an evidence base that establishes both the need for new international content and the benefits of such content.

There is existing research to show that an awareness among children of how people live in other countries leads to greater tolerance (Think Global, 2010). And recently published research from Childwise shows that in 2018 the number of children worrying about war, terrorism and global events has increased significantly in the past year – one in three children aged between 9 and 16 said they were more worried about conflict in the world than anything else.

It is IBT’s view that no broadcaster in the UK provides adequate content to explain the wider world to children. The reason we focus on broadcasters is that the content they transmit is regulated, high quality and produced from a UK cultural perspective. Online content is not regulated for harm and offence or accuracy.

This report will examine the real benefits of children having access to international content, establish the current level of provision of such content and explore with children of different age groups the type of content they enjoy and the kind of international content that is most likely to appeal to them.

We are keen to hear about the experience of IBT members who work with children so do please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about this research.


Mark Galloway
IBT Executive Director
January 3, 2019

Download Report

New IBT research on children and television

Next spring we will be publishing a new report looking at children and media.

The report will examine what children know about the world, where they get their information from and what media content they consume.

The aim of the report is to give us an evidence base for our lobbying with UK broadcasters and regulators to improve the international content available to children.

If you’d like to be involved with the research do please get in touch or follow us on Twitter where we’ll be posting regular updates using the hashtag #ibtkidstv.

The report is timed to influence the launch of the Government’s new Contestable Fund which will provide money for children’s content to be broadcast by the commercial public service broadcasters.

Find out more about the Contestable Fund here.


IBT is looking for a dynamic individual to lead our Board of Trustees from next April. Candidates are likely to be senior leaders from within the aid and development sector with a strong interest in the role the media plays in engaging the UK public with global issues.

The deadline for applications is November 19th.

Please share details of this with your network.

Download Application Pack

New BBC guidelines on coverage of climate change


Fran Unsworth, the Director of BBC News, has issued new guidance to BBC journalists on how best to report climate change. They have been told that they no longer need to include contrarians like Nigel Lawson in any discussion on the subject and that the science does not need to be constantly challenged. This news was welcomed by climate change campaigners who have long criticized the approach traditionally adopted by the BBC.


Read More

Bond sets up group to promote ethical use of images by NGOs

Bond has set up the People in the Pictures peer group comprising 15 NGO creative and content leads, with the aim of providing leadership in the sector to promote the ethical use of images.

BOND logo


The group has been established as a result of the publication last year of the People in the Pictures research report by Save the Children. The peer group will also provide a space for peer to peer discussion and support on best practice.

Read more about the group here.

The future of children’s television – Ofcom’s verdict

Ofcom, the media regulator, has announced its findings following a review of children’s television in the UK. It has concluded that the commercial public service broadcasters (Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5) should be providing more original content for children, particularly for older age groups.

This is something that IBT has been arguing for, for some time. In the spring we held a parliamentary event on the future of children’s television to draw attention to our concerns about the lack of provision of international content.

We are delighted that Ofcom has now asked the broadcasters to come up with detailed plans for new programming that fills this gap.


Read Ofcom’s review

What is an IBT briefing?

So what happens at an IBT briefing? We hold these events regularly so that our members can meet face to face with media decision makers.

Our last briefing was with Liz Corbin, Head of News at BBC World News. The BBC is, of course, a leading broadcaster when it comes to international content so we were all keen to hear how decisions are taken about which stories to cover.

BBC World News is the BBC’s most watched TV channel with a global audience of more than 100 million, so its news coverage is truly global, and much more varied that what we see on the BBC here in the UK.


Knowing the audience

Liz and her colleagues are very aware of who is watching the channel at any given time and the news agenda reflects this. For example, The Briefing at 5am is aimed at viewers in Europe and Africa; GMT at noon is aimed at Asia/Pacific and the US East coast.

Every story goes through a key test of ‘will this interest our audience?’ So if you’re pitching to Liz have that thought upper most in your mind. Like all news editors, she wants to know what’s new about a story and why it is relevant now.

One of the goals of the channel is to place global events in context and to explain wider trends to its audience.


Advice on pitching a story

Much of the briefing covered practical points such as how to pitch ideas to Liz; which stories worked best for her channel; who was watching and examples of successful collaborations with NGOs.

Liz encouraged IBT members to make contact with BBC bureaux in the countries in which they operated. When she ran the BBC team in Singapore, she had several key contacts amongst local NGOs and kept in regular touch with them.

Liz also told us about the BBC’s 50-50 policy – its target that half of all experts appearing on news programmes should be female by 2020.

This was having a big effect on day to day decisions so if you are suggesting an expert to appear on one of her shows you’ll have far more chance if it’s a woman.

When academics first started measuring these figures some BBC programmes such as Today had a ration of 6 to 1.


NGOs and safeguarding

The BBC is such an influential broadcaster so how it tells stories about the developing world matter – and how it reports on the work of aid agencies.

These agencies have come under criticism for their handling of safeguarding, with coverage over the last few months focusing on Oxfam, then Save the Children and, most recently, MSF.

BBC World News covered the revelations about MSF, since they originated with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show. An important question we wanted Liz to answer was how far this coverage had changed her view of NGOs.

It was reassuring to hear that her views hadn’t changed. Safeguarding was an issue for all sectors of society, she told us, therefore it was no surprise that NGOs were affected.


IBT briefings

IBT briefings are open to all our members and free to attend. If you’re interested in joining IBT take a look at our membership page or get in touch

Sheffield DocFest

Sheffield DocFest

For those attending this year’s Sheffield DocFest, the documentary festival, look out for the session entitled SOS Planet Earth – Ways for Docs to Save the World. (more…)

Reimagining the humanitarian system

Constructive deconstruction: imagining alternative humanitarian action report

The Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI has published a fascinating think piece on the future of the humanitarian system. (more…)


At our parliamentary event in May, Simon Terrington, Content Policy Director at Ofcom, gave us up to date figures on children’s viewing habits, how much television they watch, the devices on which they watch it, what they like to watch, what they’d like to see more of. (more…)

IBT is recruiting a Digital Trustee

Would you like to play a more active role in IBT? Have you ever thought of becoming a Trustee? (more…)

Children’s TV – crucial decisions ahead

The future of children’s TV in the UK is under the spotlight and crucial decisions made in the next few months will have a serious impact on what children are able to watch on television.
  • Ofcom is considering how to ensure children have enough public service content to watch and may introduce quotas on the commercial public service broadcasters to provide it
  • A new fund will be set up to help finance UK made children’s content – we want to see it prioritise international stories
Why is international content important for children?

For IBT members, engaging children, even as young as pre-schoolers, with the world outside the UK is essential if they are to grow up with a rounded understanding of how the world works and their place in it. IBT believes children need access to information about the lives and cultures of people in other countries and television has a vital role to play in providing this.

Recent research by Childwise showed that one in three British children aged nine to 16 said they were more worried about conflict in the world than anything else.

While many children are now watching video online, TV is still crucial because, unlike online, it is regulated to protect us from harmful content and has a statutory duty to be impartial and accurate. This is more important now than ever with the rise of fake news, identified in IBT’s recent report, Faking It – fake news and how it impacts on the charity sector.

For the past 15 years the quantity of TV programmes for children in the UK has declined steadily after quotas for the non-BBC public service channels (ITV, C4, Channel 5) were dropped. Now, most new content produced for children in the UK is broadcast by the BBC and the BBC can’t deliver enough content on its own. There are lots of pay TV channels for children but these mostly show US imports and don’t provide British kids with information relevant to their lives in the UK.

A wealth of research indicates that high quality programming can have a positive effect on children’s development and stimulate their interest in the world around them. This has always been a key element of the public value behind programmes like Blue Peter, Newsround, Magpie, Rainbow and How!

The list of entertaining, informative shows in the archives is a long one, but the list of such programmes currently being broadcast is much shorter. Newsround still plays a hugely important role but Blue Peter, while it runs excellent campaigns on sustainability and provides engaging science content, is largely domestic. International episodes of My Life on CBBC and the recent CBeebies series Where in the World are notable, but they are not the norm.


IBT is calling for an increase in international content aimed at children

We want more content like Where in the World so that our children grow up aware of what is happening in the wider world and become engaged global citizens.

IBT is calling for more content for British children on TV which provides them with a window on the wider world, explaining different cultures, putting international events into context and providing a rounded understanding of where we fit in the scheme of things.

In December the government announced the launch of a £60 million fund for the production of kids’ content for UK TV channels and Ofcom is considering whether to introduce extra regulation to increase the amount of children’s content on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. IBT is calling for the Contestable Fund to prioritise international content for children and has supported the introduction of extra quotas for the commercial public service channels to provide more content for children.

If you wish to support our campaign please get in touch.

Sophie Chalk, IBT Advocacy Consultant

Fake news and its impact on the charity sector

The Oxfam scandal has transformed the environment for international NGOs. They are under much more pressure than ever before to be as open and transparent as possible. The speed with which stories spread online demands immediate response. But what happens when the stories are false?
How should NGOs respond to fake news?

This is one of the issues considered in our new report, Faking It – fake news and how it impacts on the charity sector. The report finds that charities are struggling to cope with the impact of fake news. Both Save the Children and MSF have been the subject of fake news, falsely accused of colluding with people traffickers as they conduct rescue efforts in the Mediterranean.

The report quotes Sean Ryan, Director of Media at Save the Children as saying:

“In the Mediterranean, our search and rescue operations have been falsely accused of colluding with traffickers. It started as a report in the Italian media and then Defend Europe, the far right group, hired their own boat to try and stop what we were doing. We had to fight this propaganda without any resources. We just had to keep repeating that we only worked with the Italian coastguard.”

MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) have come under similar attack. Their head of press, Gemma Gillie, is deeply concerned about the impact of fake news on their reputation:

“Fake news delegitimises MSF and criminalises the vulnerable which in turn facilitates anti-immigration policies.”

Much has been written about fake news but Faking It is the first report that has looked specifically at the charity sector. Its findings are deeply worrying and illustrate how life has become much more difficult for charities, particularly those involved in international development. In an increasingly strident online environment, it’s harder for charities to be heard. It’s also easier for them to fall victim to false accusations, which often originate online but gain traction through mainstream media.

The report cites one example of trolling in which Girish Menon, the highly regarded CEO of ActionAid was falsely accused of being an ISIS agent. In Girish’s own words:

“We discovered that the message originated from a fake news site hosted in the US. In the heat of the moment there’s no analysis of what’s fake or not. If it had been picked up by other media what would we do? There are only so many times you can issue a rebuttal. Reputations are so brittle, what would our supporters think? And of course ActionAid works in many countries that have an ISIS footprint.”


5 actions that charities can take
  • Fake news and misinformation about your work should be monitored and challenged
  • Key staff should be trained in verification methods so that information coming from a charity is always carefully scrutinised
  • Maintaining and rebuilding public trust should be a key pillar of any communications strategy
  • Invest in relationships with trusted media outlets to help reinforce and amplify messaging


Download the Faking it: Fake News and How it Impacts on the Charity Sector report

Media coverage of humanitarian crises

Care's Suffering in Silence report front cover


Suffering in Silence, a report by Care International, has highlighted ten of the world’s most under-reported crises. (more…)


VLV awards ceremony 2017

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the inaugural IBT International TV Award. (more…)

New fund to support children’s TV

CBeebies Where in the World

The Government has announced a new £60m fund to support children’s TV. (more…)

IBT announces its new international TV award

Dear IBT members,

We need your help. Today we are launching the IBT award for the outstanding international television programme of 2017 and we need you to nominate your favourite programmes.

Despite the growth of social media, television remains hugely important as a way bringing global issues to mainstream audiences.

Who can be in any doubt as to the influence of television on the public – and even on some hard to reach politicians? If you read The Times today you will have seen its report that Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, is now a passionate advocate of tackling plastics pollution, having watched the final episode of Blue Planet 2 and, according to the newspaper, been ‘affected’ by what he saw. Congratulations must go of course to Sir David Attenborough and the team behind this amazing series.

What’s your favourite international TV programme?

No one can be unaware of Blue Planet but of course there is much television that goes uncelebrated. That’s why we are launching this award. A shortlist will be drawn up based on nominations received by IBT members, so please get in touch and tell me your favourite international programmes from 2017. To be eligible a programme must have an international theme and have been broadcast on radio or television, in the UK, in the calendar year 2017.

We are running this award in conjunction with VLV (Voice of the Listener and Viewer), the influential audience group. It will be presented at a special awards ceremony in the spring.

Of course there are many other TV awards – the BAFTAs, RTS, Grierson, Rory Peck, Amnesty and One World. So why a new award? There’s one simple reason. These awards are all judged by media professionals. The IBT award is different as it will be nominated exclusively by our members, who will have a very different set of priorities.

So let me take a personal look at some of the international programmes that have stood out in 2017. It’s been a good year for the traditional presenter-led format, with memorable examples such as The Ganges with Sue Perkins, Russia with Simon Reeve, Joanna Lumley’s India, Reggie Yates Extreme Russia and Stacey Dooley Investigates. The BBC’s Partition season had some memorable shows, notably My Family, Partition and Me and Dangerous Borders – A Journey Across India and Pakistan.

All the programmes I’ve mentioned so far come from the BBC or ITV. Channel 4 nowadays broadcasts far fewer international programmes, but what it does is always worth watching. This year there was The Fight for Mosul and Syria’s Disappeared: the Case Against Assad. And of course the inimitable Unreported World which in 2017 took us to so many countries that would otherwise not feature on television at all – Peru, Mexico, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Samoa, to name just a few.

When you review this list, it does seem that TV commissioners have settled very much on the presenter-led format. It’s a shame that there is not more experimentation. A few years ago we had Welcome to Rio on BBC2 and The Tribe on Channel 4. There is, however, one important exception. Keo, the producers of Welcome to Rio, brought us Exodus – Our Journey Continues. There is so much coverage of refugees in the media that we think we know all there is to know, but Exodus brings the human drama into our living rooms in a way that keeps you awake at night. It’s another reminder, along with Blue Planet, that television has a huge impact on the way we see the world.

We hope the IBT award will become a regular fixture and will encourage broadcasters to commission more high quality international content. This will only happen if you, our members, nominate your favourite programmes now. There’s no nomination form, just email me with your suggestions. The closing date for nominations is January 14, 2018.

Mark Galloway, IBT Director

How to pitch a story to a newspaper

Last month we heard from four newspaper executives who gave a clear idea of the sort of stories they were looking for and the best way to pitch to them. (more…)

New research on children’s TV viewing habits

The media regulator, Ofcom, has published its annual survey of children’s media use. (more…)

New research on media coverage of refugees

The Refugee Reporting project has published new research that looks at media representation of refugees and migrants in Europe.


New BBC operating licence

BBC logo

Ofcom, the media regulator, has published the new BBC operating licence. We are delighted that this now includes a commitment to international factual programming, as one of the high level objectives. (more…)


James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News has announced that BBC News will shift its focus to provide more analysis and explanation.

Harding told BBC staff last month that the BBC is ‘extremely good at reporting the what but we need to be better at the why.’ To aid the strategy, the present BBC News will be divided into two divisions: BBC News for daily news content and BBC Stories for analytical content and the stories of human experience.

These changes are very welcome. IBT has been urging the BBC to shift its focus away from the big story of the day and to increase the range of its news content. We also understand that BBC News is looking for ways of telling more positive news stories that have the potential to be empowering, as they feel these are the sort of stories that appeal to younger audiences.

The Aid Attitudes Tracker

This Gates funded project continues to track public attitudes to aid in the UK, France, Germany and the US. (more…)


We will be publishing a new research report in December, a year after the COP21 global climate change talks in Paris. (more…)

Can documentaries help us tell a different story about global development?

Last month we co-hosted a debate with the Institute of Development Studies, looking at the potential for documentaries to engage mainstream audiences with development. The speakers included the multi award winning filmmaker Jezza Neumann who spoke eloquently about both the opportunities and challenges of such films. There was an animated audience discussion which highlighted the need for NGOs and academics to ask more questions when they collaborate with filmmakers. It also made clear the importance of greater differentiation and a better understanding of how different types of documentary are able to reach different audiences. See my blog for IDS:

More constructive news

Last month’s call by the UN for a more constructive approach to news received widespread media coverage including an interview on the Today programme with Michael Møller, Director General of the UN Office at Geneva. He gave an eloquent explanation of what he means by ‘constructive’ news and made it clear that he was not talking about more ‘good’ news and less ‘bad’ news. His argument was that there should be space for more nuanced coverage and a bigger emphasis on solutions-focused reporting. Interestingly, this was something that Roger Sawyer of The World Tonight spoke about in our briefing with him. Michael Møller felt there was a need to rethink international news coverage to combat potential apathy and indifference. NCVO, the charity umbrella group, has also announced the launch of its own Constructive Voices project. The aim of the NCVO project is to help charities to tell their story by linking them with journalists.


Blog action day – blog

You’ll be thrown out by your family, lose your job and be rejected by your partner if you get tested for HIV and are HIV positive: these are the fears of people going for testing. The stigma of HIV is one of the biggest barriers to its eradication: Discrimination, isolation and social disgrace. So what role does the media play in reinforcing these fears and could it do more to normalise HIV?

IBT’s latest report HIV and Stigma: The Media Challenge examines the role of the media in reducing the stigma around HIV. The research shows that people living with HIV are discriminated against across all forms of media and suffer real inequalities. The print media especially demonises people living with HIV – especially when they come from key populations which are viewed as on the margins of society such as men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users.

The report explores what media is out there globally to reduce stigma and there are good projects but they are few and far between. They are all run by NGOs in partnership with broadcasters and to a certain degree these have had some success, but stigma is still a real problem.

Research in Swaziland uncovered quite a lot of content – mostly on radio and in the community pages of newspapers – which aims to engage people with HIV testing and prevention, but it varied enormously in quality and some of it was very poor.

Young people in a focus group said that if HIV comes up on TV or radio they immediately turn over. It’s depressing, boring and they hate being preached to.  This is in a country where the prevalence rate of HIV is probably close to 40%.

It appears the media have a long way to go if they are to engage us with this issue, normalise HIV as just any other illness and reduce the inequality which exists between those who have the virus and those who do not. If we don’t then we will never get people tested, get them on treatment and reduce the number of new infections.

Download the report from:

Current affairs on the BBC

The BBC Trust has taken a bold step to strengthen its commitment to current affairs on BBC1, by ring fencing output for the first time, requiring the channel to air at least 40 hours a year in peak time. The Trust has long been concerned about current affairs on BBC1. This new quota is one of the main outcomes of the Trust service review of BBC News and Current Affairs to which IBT submitted evidence. The Trust has also instructed the BBC Director of News to come up with concrete proposals to strengthen the range of international stories covered across BBC News. This is an issue that has concerned IBT and which featured prominently in our submission.

Unreported World

The new series of Unreported World started last week with a powerful film on Ebola. The production team is now working on ideas for the next series. If you are interesting in pitching to them let me know and I’ll pass on their contact details. The RSA will be hosting a screening of an upcoming Unreported World film Syria’s Invisible Refugees. The film looks at the plight of disabled refugees from Syria currently living in temporary camps in Lebanon. The screening will take place at 6.30pm on Wednesday October 8th and will be followed by a Q and A with the reporter, Giles Duley, and representatives from Handicap International and UNHCR.

Changes at Today

Jamie Angus, the editor of the Today programme has said that he wants to recruit more black staff to his production team and feature more diverse voices on air. He has also acknowledged that the programme has suffered a small drop in its audience. He puts this down to a run of ‘bad foreign news’ and says the show needs to find new ways to refresh its approach to international coverage. Angus said that Today would not stop doing foreign stories, since ‘that would be a betrayal of our audience, we are not going to do it. What we are going to do is think about how we do the storytelling.’ We have invited Jamie Angus to speak at one of our briefings later this year.

Climate change a priority for Channel 4

Channel 4 has announced, in its annual report, that climate change will be a priority area for factual content over the next year. A number of new programmes are in development. Following the publication of IBT’s report The Environment on TV – are broadcasters meeting the challenge? we have had several meetings with Channel 4 commissioners and they have accepted that the channel has neglected this issue in recent years. The annual report also stated that Channel 4 needs to ‘find the space for more international content.’ This is something that we have raised in meetings with the Channel 4 Chief Executive, David Abraham. David will be the guest speaker at IBT’s annual dinner for CEOs in the Autumn.

BBC News to adopt a ‘digital first’ strategy

A review of BBC News has recommended that a ‘digital first’ strategy should be adopted and has been surprisingly critical of the BBC’s online news content, saying that it is ‘punching well below its weight.’ The review was conducted by Sir Howard Stringer, one of the BBC’s independent executive directors. Stringer called for a ‘shift in mindset’ and a more proactive approach to sharing content with other organisations.

HIV and stigma – the media challenge

Many thanks to all who attended our round table event last month to discuss the initial findings of our report on global media coverage of HIV. The report is now being drafted and will be launched on the evening of Tuesday September 2nd at the House of Commons, in a joint event with the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS. Invitations will go out nearer the time.

Environment Report Launch

The Environment on TV
are broadcasters meeting the challenge?

Last month we launched our new research report at a packed meeting at the House of Commons with a panel which included broadcasters, NGOs and scientists. The report was widely praised for its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of tv coverage of the environment but the broadcasters disputed exactly what their responsibility was to make programmes that looked at contentious issues such as climate change.

However, it was agreed that there was a creative gap and a need for some fresh thinking. Our hope is that the report will act as a catalyst for innovation so we’ll be bringing together a group of broadcasters and independent producers later this month for a round table discussion to see how the recommendations of the report can be taken further.

Copies of the research report can be downloaded here.

Changes at the BBC

Tony Hall, the BBC Director General has been talking about changes which he’ll be introducing at the BBC. These include a host of new services and a much improved iPlayer where programmes can be accessed before they are broadcast and for 30 days after broadcast (as opposed to the present 7 day window). He said the BBC needs to be much more responsive to the ways in which audiences are changing. The BBC wants audiences to be more involved in programmes. The full speech can be found here.

The BBC has also come under attack from Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, who has indicated that the BBC will have a fight on its hands to hold onto the licence fee when a new Charter comes into place in 2016. DCMS and the BBC have already started work on the new Charter and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has announced its own inquiry into the future of the BBC to which IBT will be submitting evidence.

We’ll also be submitting evidence to the first BBC Trust review of all its news services. There’s been a lot of change in the news division including major cuts and the merger with the World Service. We would welcome any thoughts from IBT members on how well BBC News is doing in terms of its international coverage. If you’d like to contribute to our submission or make one of your own, please contact IBT’s Head of Campaigns, Sophie Chalk.


ITV and Channel 5 Licences


The licences for ITV and Channel 5 have been renewed by the Government for a 10 year period with a statutory obligation placed on them to broadcast national and international news and current affairs in peak time. This is excellent news for the future of public service broadcasting. IBT has been vocal in arguing for such an obligation, and in making the case for the importance of current affairs. Earlier this year we published our report

An Uncertain Future: The threat to current affairs

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Changing TV Viewing Habits



Ofcom has published its annual communications market report  for 2012 which looks in detail at changing patterns of media consumption. It contains a wealth of interesting information: families are increasingly watching tv together in the living room; households now have fewer tv sets; growing numbers of viewers are on a second screen at the same time as watching tv; live tv still accounts for 90% of viewing; people in the UK are watching more tv than they used to; radio listening is holding up well.

Public Understanding of Climate Change


The Select Committee on Science and Technology has been listening to evidence from broadcasters, as part of its inquiry into public understanding of climate change. David Jordan, the BBC’s Director of Editorial Policy, told MPs that the BBC had a duty to explain climate change to mainstream audiences and had moved on from ‘false balance’ equating the sceptical point of view with mainstream opinion. Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s Head of Factual, took a different view, arguing that Channel 4 would cover these issues when it could find an alternative point of view. Fiona Ball, Head of Environment at Sky, said that it was making a concerted effort to engage audiences with climate change and, unlike other broadcasters, its corporate and editorial policies were much more joined up.


Here’s the link to the oral evidence given to the   Select Committee on Science and Technology.