In recent months organisations working on Sudan have become increasingly clear that the situation is dire. Khartoum has recently used cluster bombs against its own people, murder continues in Darfur despite the world assuming it is over, and clashes along the north-south border have spread until relations are in a state of war in all but name.
But media reports on Sudan remain sporadic at best, compared to almost daily full page coverage of the troubles in Syria.
There are obvious reasons for this. Turmoil in Syria is relatively new. Sudan’s troubles – so numerous, and going on for so long, suffers from media fatigue, to the point where, as one of Champollion’s clients recently argued in an opinion piece for the New Statesman, “the world assumes Darfur is over”.
But it isn’t. So it is up to organisations like our client Waging Peace to work with the media to alert people to what is going on. But how do you keep an issue on the radar – whether it is war in a far off country, or knife crime closer to home? Especially if, like our clients, you seek more informed interventions and debates about serious topics, rather than crude publicity stunts.
For the more serious and thoughtful organisations out there, a number of options do exist:
Generate your own news – collate information only you have access to. Gather the stories of people you work to help, collect statistics, release a report, or conduct some polling on an issue relevant to your work. Our work with Platform51 for example identified that one in three women will take antidepressants at some time in their life.
Look out for reactive news opportunities – the recent anniversary of the Darfur conflict was a chance for Waging Peace to draw attention to the ongoing situation in the country.
Make yourself indispensable to journalists – you know more than others what is happening on the ground on the issues you work on. Brief journalists regularly. Show them you have access to people or information which may be crucial for stories they are writing. Hold events that journalists can be invited to attend or chair. Or, if possible, take a journalist on a trip to see a problem for themselves.