Tribal News Network (TNN)

Target group

The Tribal News Network (TNN), operating in rural areas of Pakistan

Country Partners Budget Duration
Pakistan January 2016 - December 2020
Theory of Change Themes Donor
Intermediate Outcome 1, Intermediate Outcome 2, Intermediate Outcome 3 Access to Information, Accountability, Audience engagement and research, Enabling economic environment, Enabling environment


As part of Free Press Unlimited’s No News Is Bad News (NNIBN) initiative, the Tribal News Network (TNN) has been supported in its aims to grow a strong network of well-trained citizen journalists, to bring attention to under-reported areas and call for action on important social and community issues. TNN serves communities in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan (such as Pashtun), and has been working to develop a sustainable business model for local media. The area in which TNN operates was known as a ‘media dark area’, meaning that the region was not covered by any media outlets. TNN, founded in 2012, has changed that.

Overall objective

Assist TNN in their efforts to develop a sustainable business model for local media to foster accountability and improve media representation for the people living in these areas.


TNN investigates and creates stories for both a local and national audience. Their publications are made by and about citizens in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province since 2018) of Pakistan.

TNN collaborated with local CSOs on a wide variety of projects and even hosted media awareness trainings for these CSOs.

Achieved outputs

  • TNN and local CSOs created a  WhatsApp group to establish a communication channel between themselves to share stories and discuss the issues with one another.
  • A further platform for discussion and exchange was the various workshops and trainings that TNN organised and hosted for local CSOs.
  • TNN publish approximately 2,000 stories ever year

Achieved outcomes

  • Local CSOs have started sharing their stories with TNN and have joined a WhatsApp group where issues to be reported are shared.
  • The readers of TNNs online news are engaging more actively: they now post significantly more comments and there are longer discussions in which they react on each other.
  • After the issue was made known to a wider audience via TNN, a local tribal council (Jirga) decided to reopen several markets that had been closed in 2009 during a military operation
  • TNN is publishing 30% more stories dealing with topics championed by the CSOs involved in the training.
  • 19 local CSOs coordinate with representatives of various media outlets.
  • Photographs taken by CSOs representatives have been published in newspapers.

Achieved impact

TNN have published stories that have resulted in immediate and/or strong action

  • The story about Afghan refugees: On April 15, TNN did a story on the sufferings of Afghan Refugees living in camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the lockdown. The story highlighted that most of the Afghan refugees living in camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are labourers and workers who have lost their source of income during the coronavirus lockdown and now they are finding it difficult to make ends meet. After the story was published the spokesman for UNHCR Qaiser Khan Afridi approached TNN and sought contact with the refugees who talked to TNN in order for UNHCR to provide support. Two days later the government of Japan announced a donation of USD 1 million to strengthen UNHCR’s efforts to meet the most urgent needs of the Afghan refugees. On April 17, the BBC also did a video report on the sufferings of Afghan refugees living in camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
  • The story about marginalised groups’ access to identity papers: In the region, marginalised groups were denied access to basic services, the ability to vote and the right to obtain proper identity papers. Trans people were, for instance, not permitted to obtain identity papers without the permission of their parents. TNN and trans rights CSOs highlighted the irregularities in policy and published articles on this issue. Thanks to these publications and the way they informed the public, The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) introduced a new policy for registration of trans gender persons. Under the previous policy, they were not able to obtain identity papers without cooperation from their parents. Under the new policy, their Guru (leader) will confirm their identity.

Role of FPU

Before the start of the NNIBN programme, FPU had been involved in helping TNN set up the organisation in 2012 and has been involved in supporting TNN in various ways since. FPU then held a follow-up evaluation with TNN in Pakistan in 2018, which revealed the impressive progress the organisation had made, particularly in terms of establishing strong collaborative networks with local CSOs.

Lessons learned / Challenges

When media professionals and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) collaborate, investigations can dig deeper and societal impact can stretch further. The collaboration between TNN and local CSOs is a testament to how beneficial this organisational cooperation can be for societies and accountability.

More information

TNN website