Media Component


A. Media Grants and Mentorship Program

What it’s all about?

The HIFC Grants and Mentorship Program seeks to fulfill two of the HIFC’s core objectives:

  • increase the quality and number of stories on humanitarian issues in the media and
  • improve management and distribution of humanitarian information in the public sphere.

The programme offers mentoring and grants to support journalists committed to reporting on humanitarian issues affecting the Zimbabwean society, issues often dismissed as not newsworthy.

The financial grant is a facilitation fee that seeks to address some of the challenges journalists face in covering humanitarian stories; i.e., it takes care of expenses such as travel, research, and communication.

A number of highly experienced professionals are allocated journalists with approved pitches, whom they assist in developing their ideas into well researched and well written stories.

Application to be on program

Journalists with a passion for humanitarian reporting submit one story pitch each to the HIFC Editor, who invites them to discuss the ideas – which if approved qualify the applicants to sign agreements with HIFC. The journalist receives 48% of the total grant, with the balance paid upon publication of the story in a registered media outlet of the journalist’s choice.


Successful journalists are each allocated a mentor who works with and assists them throughout the story development process. HIFC places great importance on this process as it ensures stories are sharpened, well researched and sufficiently detailed to meet high standards of news reporting.

It is mandatory for all journalists recruited to undergo this process as it produces good quality news articles associated with the excellent brand of HIFC and contributes immensely to the personal and professional growth of the journalist.

The mentors are themselves seasoned, veteran journalists who have a wealth of knowledge and experience gained over years of practice.

Who can join?

The HIFC does not discriminate; and all journalists from public or private media, fulltime or freelance, print, radio or television, with a passion for humanitarian reporting, are welcome. The HIFC strongly encourages female journalists to apply.

Where to apply

Interested journalists send an email of enquiry or interest with a curriculum vitae to the editor at HIFC on email, and At least three published/ broadcast stories on any subject with by lines or letters of confirmation from the news editor would also be an added advantage.


Apart from receiving mentorship from senior editors, journalists under the HIFC Media Program have at their disposal a Resource Centre equipped with fast and reliable wireless internet connectivity to enable them access E-mails and conduct research for stipulated times, free of charge.

Journalists are also free to make use of the assistance offered by HIFC’s Programme Assistants in carrying out research on specific topics related to humanitarian issues.

Journalists who work with HIFC automatically become recipients of the HIFC’s monthly newsletter and the humanitarian analyses. The documents aggregate information on activities and interventions taking place in the humanitarian civic society and are useful with their story leads, which can be followed up.


The Basics

Traditionally, it has always been the role of the media, especially community media, to inform and educate the public, and provide them with information that helps them make informed decisions about their everyday lives.

In a crisis situation, that role remains just the same, only it becomes more significant, more urgent – it could mean the difference between life and death.

One of the problems with covering humanitarian situations/crises is most reporters have no background, history, and most importantly, connections related to these often complicated subjects.

As a result many journalists miss some of the more important stories and issues. A humanitarian situation/crisis requires journalists to respond quickly, and write fast and often numerous stories in a short time span.

Despite this pressure, it is most important for reporters to remember and work with the Basic Rules of Journalism:

As always, there are the key aspects (5Ws + H) to any story:

1. WHAT has happened, WHAT is happening now?

2. WHERE is the story taking place?

3. WHO is affected by the situation and WHO are the key actors?

4. WHEN did the situation arise?

5. WHY has the situation come about?

6. HOW did the situation arise?

7. HOW are the affected people and key actors dealing with the events?

And as always, all reports should demonstrate the following:

 Accuracy

 Balance

 Solid Research

 Reliable Sources

 Quality and Descriptive writing

The list of topics that humanitarian reporters focus on includes:

a. Health and Security of Women

b. Health and Security of Children

(The emphasis on children and women is deliberate, as they are the most affected in any humanitarian situation.)

c. Livelihoods

d. Environment

e. Health in General

f. Water and Sanitation

g. Shelter

h. Food

i. Protection

j. Education

Information Needs: Understanding Your Audience

The most important challenge in covering a humanitarian crisis is determining what, specifically, the public needs to know.

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What are their immediate needs?
  3. What kinds of information would help them meet their needs?

Providing useful coverage of a humanitarian situation/crisis requires a reporter to understand the unique nature of the moment at hand; and to respond with useful information.

  • But how does a reporter determine what information is most essential?
  • And where does this information originate from?

The information needs of your audience usually depend on how close your audience is sitting to the humanitarian situation that you are reporting on.

If your media outlet is inside the zone of the humanitarian crisis, then you as a reporter are part of the affected community, and it will probably be fairly clear to you what the people in your area need to know.

Phase One: Affected Audience Information Needs at Onset of Disaster

The immediate need for people affected by crisis is for basic relevant information that can help them ensure safety for themselves and their families.

At this stage, the community is forced to rely on its own members and resources to help each other; there is not yet any organized response. This requires the people to know certain vital things, e.g.:

  • What exactly is happening?
  • How widespread is this event?
  • Why is it happening?
  • Who in the local community is at risk?
  • Where can I find help?
  • What kinds of assistance are available?
  • Who is providing help?
  • Is it safe to move about?
  • How long will the situation last?
  • Where can I find more information?

Phase Two: Affected Audience Information Needs During Response

Within a few days, the community will have become slightly more organized, usually thanks to the efforts of community leaders, mosques, hospitals, other officials or just individual efforts of people to help those around them.

By that time, some form of government assistance may be on the way, while some local and international aid agencies in the area or in the country may provide some immediate services.

A full scale global humanitarian aid effort usually takes at least ten days to become widely effective.

At this stage, the affected audience needs daily updated detail, not only on the broad picture of what has happened and what may still be happening, but also on response efforts:

  • Can I go home?
  • Where should I go?
  • Where can I find food, water, medical attention – times and locations?
  • Am I eligible / how to register for aid distribution?
  • Is it safe to move around?
  • What has happened to the communications networks phone / internet?
  • Burial of bodies?
  • Basic first aid advice for treatment of disease / injury
  • Prevention of basic disease (hygiene and sanitation)
  • How can I locate family members?
  • Who is offering help? (Agency names, flags, logos, how to recognize?)
  • What is going on in the rest of the country?
  • What is the government doing?

Phase Three: Affected Audience Information Needs During Recovery and Reconstruction

As time goes on; even weeks and months after the peak of an emergency, local reporters inside the affected community will need to continue prioritizing humanitarian news; because the life of their community will take a long time to get back to normal.

During this phase, people’s attention turns to longer term issues such as how they can get their children back into school, dealing with trauma in the community, reclaiming lost documents, their rights to reclaim land and homes and the matter of beginning again to farm crops or reopen businesses.

They continue to need information on the humanitarian response efforts, on reconstruction of homes and schools, on the restoration of basic services, on the security situation, and other factors that continue to affect their lives.

Reporting Inside – Out

Journalists working inside crisis-affected zones can also provide a valuable service to their communities by passing information to other journalists and media channels, whether national or international.

Media outlets that sit far away from affected areas frequently seek local journalists to explain the situation to audiences that are not affected – and these audiences can include national and international political and aid actors who may be in a position to offer help.

Reporting for Audiences Not Directly Affected

When you are reporting on a humanitarian crisis that is happening in a different part of the country, then your audience may have little prior knowledge of a specific crisis and the people affected by it.

You will therefore need to explain to them the background to the situation:

  • Who are the affected people?
  • Where are they from?
  • What is the history to this crisis?
  • Which authorities are responsible for dealing with the situation?
  • Are there any policies or political angles to the story?

Even audiences that are not directly affected will have an interest in first-hand accounts of what has happened, how people are coping and what their needs are, especially at the peak of a humanitarian crisis.

Audiences at a distance do not need to know where to find food, but they do need to know that affected people need food.

And if the government or other aid agency promises to provide food, then national and international audiences need to know if that food does not arrive, so that pressure can be put on the relevant authorities or agencies to do their jobs.

This “watchdog” role can be an important part of the work of journalists whose audiences include affected persons, policy-makers and humanitarian relief agencies.

(Adapted from Internews Network Pakistan: by Alison Campbell & Kate Gunn, with assistance from Tehmina Zafar and Naima Saeed)



  • Journalists continuously undergo training in specialized humanitarian reporting
  • Training critical in enhancing the understanding of issues by journalists
  • Needs to continue until humanitarian reporting becomes a household beat


  • HIFC hosts a state of the art resource centre equipped with computers and wireless internet at the disposal of journalists pursuing humanitarian stories.
  • The resource centre has conveniently transformed into a home for journalists where they interact with each other and also have access to records and documents submitted by humanitarian organizations.
  • The facility also has a resident editor with whom journalists have consultation on stories they are working on.
  • Currently the centre has only two computers and they are insufficient to cater for prevailing traffic.


  1. Core group to become investigative journalists in humanitarian reporting
  2. Humanitarian reporting award
  3. Issue based grants and training
  4. Expand resource centre


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