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Internews Network

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Censorship, Freedom of Speech & Press, Civil Rights, Education, International, International Development, Television, Vocational & Technical Schools

Mission: Internews is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard.

Programs: Asia:in asia, internews supports journalists and other civil society actors across a wide range of media landscapes to promote open and fair media laws, freedom of expression, and democratic reform. We provide training and technical support to print and radio journalists, as well as tv broadcasters and social media bloggers and platforms. Our aim is to support high quality programming for local audiences and to encourage the adoption of innovative and interactive journalism tools. We support an independent media to cover a wide variety of issues that span from the environment and climate change to free and fair elections to peace and security. In many countries in asia, internews works at the cutting edge of the technology revolution that is upending countries' traditional media landscapes. For example, in myanmar, internews has worked to support the development of a nascent 'coder' community of technologists interested in social change and in working with media and civil society to advance social justice issues.

africa:in africa, internews trained thousands of kenyan journalists about how to report effectively on hiv/aids and other health issues, including maternal and child health, malaria, tb, and family planning. In our health journalism work, we focus on making sure that people have the information they need to protect their health - and that the media environment supports affected populations, rather than stigmatizing them. In countries affected by conflict, such as south sudan, the central african republics, and the democratic republic of congo (drc), internews provides training to the media in how to report on violence and reconciliation issues in a way that promotes peace. We also support the media in covering elections in a comprehensive and fair way to support democratic changes. Finally, in many countries in africa, such as the drc, internews supports long overdue changes to outdated media laws to reflect the new connectivity revolution happening across the continent. We work to protect and promote the free exchange of ideas on the internet and in the new social media platforms springing up in many countries in africa.

europe and eurasia:in europe and eurasia, internews provides technical support to independent tv, radio, print, and online media sources through training career and citizen journalists in professional and ethical standards. We also assist traditional media outlets to create interactive, multimedia online presences. In support of a free press, we work with local media ngos and associations to create active networks of media professionals, enabling them to speak out with one voice against censorship and repressive policies. Our programs provide legal assistance to journalists and bloggers in trouble. Finally, we advocate for free and open internet policies in all countries where we work. Internews' work across the region creates opportunities for dialogue across borders, bringing colleagues from often polarized societies together in positive collaborative exchanges. In central asia, internews' work led to a strategy for digital switchover that guarantees frequencies for independent tv stations working in kazakhstan.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Thank you, Jeri Curry, for suggesting Internews' own 2010 990 financial data as a source to corroborate the less tangible observations offered about this organization. Disclosure of the 990 statement, incidentally, is in no way a gesture towards "transparency in our use of funds"; the IRS requires every tax-exempt 501 (c) organization to file identical statements for public inspection.
In sum, the roughly $41.64 million in Internews 2010 expenses reflects a scandalous use of tax-payer funded largess primarily dedicated to supporting the lifestyles of Internews US based employees and its overwhelming western-born "expert" consultants (99.98% of Internews funds originate from the US government, negating the organizational talking point recited in Curry's comment: "grants from government development agencies, private foundations and individuals." While Internews may receive a penitence from outside the US government, suggestions of significant non-government funding are exceptionally misleading.) Below are among the more remarkable examples of Internews' "charitable" stewardship of tax-payer funds:
Executive salaries: The 990 reports the 5 most senior Internews officers earned a total of $1,006,482 in 2010. The Internews CEO received $262,339 in compensation, more than any employee in the government's executive branch except the US President. The Internews CFO received $205,080 in compensation, approximately 8% more than Treasury head Tim Geithner and above all other Cabinet level Secretaries. (He also blogs about the family sojourns he takes each year to exotic international destinations-creekmoreworld.com). The VP for Communication's $170,587 in compensation places her in the general pay grade of, for example, a US Senator ($174,000) and the White House Press Secretary (Robert Gibbs, $172,200). Thanks to Internews, these employees are very well-off; receiving, on average, compensation roughly 300% above their median tax-paying sponsor.
Other compensation: In total, Internews allocated $23,361,108--more than half its overall expenses--to providing for its employees and consultants. This includes $11,532,811 in wages to an undisclosed number of non-executive workers, $1,862,437 for government style benefit packages and $180,341 in pension contributions. It also entails $6,750,091 in fees-for-services to "other" non-employees, many of which likely draw from a class of professional consultants whose livelihood derives primarily from government sponsored assistance projects. This sum also reflects $1,897,574 in "occupancy" expenses, presumably to support the American standard of housing expatriate employees maintain during oversea assignments.
Travel: Internews reported $4,035,250 in "travel" expenses in 2010. A portion of the funds undoubtedly supported travel expenses for host-country beneficiaries. Equally certain, however, is they also reflect overseas travel for their US and expatriate staff (perhaps the stated commitment to act "transparent in our use of funds" will lead Internews to publicly detail staff travel expenses). As sort of quasi fringe benefit, nearly every Internews US based staffer can expect a minimum of one (many staffers take several) annual overseas trip, typically to execute "monitoring and evaluation" or "program support". Though some of these activities occur, in many countries they are sandwiched among guided sightseeing from the local staffer charged with escorting their guest's every moment (most Internews projects also employee full-time drivers), extended restaurant meals and nightlife. For each day abroad, moreover, Internews provides staffers the maximum food and lodging reimbursement the generous US government per diem guideline allows. While costly and perhaps interesting, these trips usually contribute little to the quality of Internews assistance.
Office: In 2010, Internews spent a total of $3,000,000 on "office expenses", probably the majority of which pay to lease office facilities. Internews has a substantial physical presence on each American coast, including an entire floor of coveted office space in downtown Washington, DC.
Fundraising: Internews acknowledges $539,054 in "fundraising" expenses; in effect, utilizing taxpayer funds to argue for additional government support. Though substantial, in reality this sum almost certainly understates the actual resources Internews expends upon perpetuating and enlarging its funding. Aware the preservation of their privilege depends upon new revenue streams, the preponderance of Internews' multi-million dollar domestic staff dedicates much of their time to performing tasks more reminiscent of PR professionals than of aid workers: to fashioning program "success stories", to meeting with government patrons, to anticipating and responding to tenders for funding, to extolling their achievement at conferences (sometimes overseas), among other similar activities. Yet unlike most private enterprise, Internews coffers benefit more from the failure to achieve the overarching goals they espouse than from their expeditious resolution (that is, should media freedom in a country substantially improve, the US government will halt assistance). As a consequence, the publications Internews circulates tend to accentuate the challenges within the countries they work, while at the same time exalting the Internews contribution to a country's media landscape, however minuscule. Beyond compromising the effectiveness of their work, this incentive further corrodes the information (be it promotional or ostensive "analysis")Internews spends so dearly to furnish.
The above numbers do not lie; and yet, they fail to fully depict the intangible hubris, sense of self-entitlement and lazy work ethic the Internews leadership epitomizes. The breathtaking audacity they display in trumpeting exaggerated altruistic "achievement" to solicit still more for their excess is but one example. In an era of massive budget deficits and relative decline in American economic strength, every federal dollar to this decadent group deprives potentially useful investment in domestic schools, infrastructure or industry. Potential private contributors, moreover, may easily support concerns that channel a far greater proportion of their gifts to its intended target. The question posed, in sum, is: what sane American would voluntarily give yet more of their money to Internews?

Previous Stories

Former staff

Rating: 1

I worked for Internews and have worked for other non-profits. Internews is without question the worst organization I have encountered--I beg that you not waste your money with a gift. If possible I would rate below one star. You would need to be crazy to give money to this organization, for so many reasons. These reasons are: a) your donation, which the organization considers "discretionary funds" will be used for internews executives to take business class flights abroad for absolute junket trips; b) other staff "retreats" of which there are many, to very pleasant oversea locations in lux accommodations; c) "discretionary" funds, that is donated funds, are use exclusively for the pleasure of the staff's leisure. c) Even non discretionary funds (funds given by a government organization, with regulations about their expenditure) are more than 60% wasted in non-valued added non-sense in Washington. I would wager that less than 10% of funds donated actually in one form or another reach their intended indigenous target. Most of the staff only comes to office 2-3 times a work. Yet they pay themselves exceptional salaries.