Journalism is a complicated industry to be in — ask any journalist ever, and they will tell you. 

People often feel a little apprehensive about speaking to journalists, while some professions and businesses are excited by the idea

To each their own! 

The relationships and interactions can be difficult to navigate as a journalist. One relationship that is often overlooked is the one journalists have with NGOs. 

NGOs are non-governmental organisations that focus on a specific issue or cause. They often throw themselves into situations to help people, which also become big news stories. 

Journalists and NGOs have a long-standing relationship that you might not be aware of. 

Alrika Möller from media Update is unravelling the strings connecting journalists and NGOs. 

Why journalists need NGOs

Journalists are always chasing stories. Once they have a story, they need information, quotes and sources

Stories do not just happen. That is why journalists need NGOs

In general, NGOs can be found around any big newsworthy situation. They focus on making a difference in people's lives or on the planet as a whole. That means that they get involved with everything from human rights issues to climate change activism

It is in the nature of an NGO to gather as much information about a cause as possible, as they need it to provide help where help is needed. Journalists need information for their stories. 

Journalists often use NGOs as a source or a way to get closer to a specific situation to get the information and resources they need for their stories. NGOs often have access to information that is not exactly always open to the public. 

This is precisely the type of information and access that journalists crave

Why NGOs need journalists

It is common knowledge that NGOs are extremely dependent on exposure. They need media coverage in order for people to know about them. The more people know about them, the bigger the chance of them getting support and donors

Exposure and media coverage do not just happen. That is why NGOs need journalists

Journalists have a platform to write and report on the things happening in the world. When they report on NGOs and / or the causes they are focusing on, it provides the NGOs with a platform to spread their message and, hopefully, get support and donors. 

Often NGOs need to convince journalists that a story is worth telling. They do this by providing them with as much information as they possibly can and by giving them access to people with stories to share. 

NGOs are filled with people who have interesting and important stories to tell. Those stories can sometimes contain crucial environmental information, but most of the time, it is real human stories that will evoke emotion and touch many hearts and lives. 

The only problem with these stories is that they don't have the platform or influence to tell them on their own. They need journalists to help

How NGOs and journalists can work together

The idea of journalists and NGOs working together can feel a little strange. They cannot be more different. 

Yes, we already established that they oftentimes need each other to reach a specific goal, but journalists and NGOs having a common goal feels like a shot in the dark. 

Before you start thinking that I am grasping at straws, let me explain. 

Journalists and NGOs have complementary skills and focus. Journalists are mainly looking to shine a light on the things that are happening in the world and uncover the truth. NGOs, on the other hand, are focussed on the causes and issues that affect the world

Both NGOs and journalists are facing challenges like funding and access, but when they work together, they combine their resources. Journalists have a platform to share information and start important conversations, while NGOs have access to information and expertise. 

A great example of what can happen when journalists and NGOs work together is climate reporting

Journalists from a long list of publications and outlets — such as CNN and The Guardian — banded together with a group of climate NGOs, including Greenpeace, to raise awareness on specific climate-related issues. This partnership ended up changing climate policies in the United States of America. 

The relationship between journalists and NGOs is an important one. When they band together, they can and will enact real change

Journalism is such a vast industry that impacts so many things. Do you have any burning journalism questions? Put your questions in the comment section below, and we will help you find the answer. 

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Reporting stories is one thing, but where does ethics come into play? Find out more on Ethics in freelance journalism
*Image courtesy of Canva