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Magazine survey

 

Readership wants more perspective, less hype.

Less ‘propaganda’, more debate.

Fewer articles on VIPs; more on volunteers and experiences of National Societies.

More outside perspective, less formality.

These are just a few of the views from members of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in a survey commissioned by the editorial board of Red Cross Red Crescent magazine to better understand what readers like, and don’t like, about the periodical’s look, content and direction.

In general, satisfaction is high — around 80 per cent expressed positive feelings about the magazine. And that’s not hype. That’s the finding of Owl Research and Evaluation, which conducted interviews with 89 people from 31 National Societies (in nine languages), as well as at head - quarters and field offices of the ICRC and IFRC.

While readers generally liked the content, they gave more mixed reviews when asked about design and layout.

“The design can be better,” said an IFRC communications staffer in Asia. “It’s a bit too traditional. Use more photos and photo essays.”

WHAT DO READERS WANT MORE OF?

FEATURES ON THE ACTIVITIES OF NATIONAL SOCIETIES

PERSONAL STORIES AND FEATURES ON VOLUNTEERISM

OPINION-BASED ARTICLES, CHALLENGES AND DEBATES AND VOICES FROM OUTSIDE THE MOVEMENT ON KEY ISSUES. TOO NICE

What don’t they like? Many said that the magazine is too nice to colleagues in the Movement. “Some respondents commented that they saw a ‘selfcongratulatory’ tendency in the writing,” the report concluded. “Most respondents would prefer a more self-critical approach in addressing social issues while staying close to topics of interest, such as volunteering and experiences of National Societies.”

In addition to inspiring those within the Movement, it should provoke dialogue and feedback in a wide range of audiences. Meanwhile, others felt the magazine’s approach was too “academic” and that a “lighter” tone would “appeal to more (notably younger) audiences”. Speaking of audience, exactly who reads the magazine? While headquarters in Geneva generally see the magazine as internal to the Movement and targeted towards National Society leadership, it is often used by National Societies for external communications with media, government officials and donors.

For many, the magazine serves as a way to show their connection to a wider, international movement. Even as the internet is increasingly accessible, there are still many for whom a print magazine is the best way to get Movement news, according to the study.

One area of agreement: as the only venue that represents the Movement — National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC — many suggested they want the magazine to keep showing up in their mailboxes.

Red Cross Red Crescent magazine has already responded with a redesign launched with this issue and the editorial board intends to act on many of the respondents’ other suggestions in coming editions. Stay tuned and please keep letting us know what you think.

Letters to the editor

Here’s a collection of ideas from Red Cross Red Crescent staff around the world, about what they want to see in Red Cross Red Crescent magazine, according to a recent survey:

“It would be great to have greater participation from the National Societies.” Communications officer, National Society, Middle East

“The magazine should have its own personality. Be more holistic. Include opinion pieces and also letters and feedback. More indepth focus on topics.”
Operational staff, IFRC Asia

“Create a network of editors, including the national magazines for exchange of articles, translations and ideas.” Operational staff, National Society, Europe

“More interesting stories — especially from the point of view of victims, written by victims. Third-party perspectives, rather than Red Cross advertisement.” Communications staff, ICRC Asi

 

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