Operational Communications, Advocacy & Negotiation

media and humanitarian action: approaches and challenges


© Laura Bianchi, MSF

NEXT SESSION: 11-15 may, 2020

With the media representing a strategic communication channel in contemporary humanitarianism, analyzing the media landscape, understanding the limits and constraints of media relations and developing effective messages to the media have become most relevant skills for effective communication in humanitarian settings.
The courses are led by senior academics and experienced humanitarian professionals, who guide students to develop their analytic skills and acquire practical tools.

This course is tailored to managers of aid projects who want to better understand and use the potential of media.


Using lectures, case studies and discussions, the general objective of the seminar is for participants to acquire the tools and skills adapted for effective communication in humanitarian settings.

At the end of the course, the participants will have developed a global knowledge and understanding of the media landscape. They will also have analyzed existing approaches between stakeholders and learned to optimize interactions as an aid actor.

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge - Understanding of

  • the media landscape (global & local) and the opportunities and challenges it presents to humanitarian organizations
  • the impact of the digital media revolution
  • media as a strategic communications channel to support humanitarian programmes and operations

Learning outcomes in terms of practical skills - Capacity to

  • apply a media mapping tool
  • craft messages for the media
  • prepare and give an effective media interview (broadcast, print, online)
  • handle difficult media interviews in a crisis situation
  • explore the potential and constraints of digital media and other “new” information technologies.
  • evaluate their personal communication skills and areas of improvement

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competencies - Ability to

  • analyze the limits and constraints of relations between the media and humanitarian organizations
  • understand the challenges and opportunities of the digital media revolution
  • develop critical analysis of the influence and power of the media and the benefits of proactive media relations
  • reflect on the ethical dimensions of the relationship between journalists and aid actors and of the production of news by aid actors


2 ECTS - Credits recognized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.