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The article draws on the concepts of “felt needs” and “politics of listening” widely used in community development and applies them more broadly to the humanitarian crisis suffered by internally displaced persons in Burkina Faso. It investigates the two-way communication stream between radio journalists and listeners drawing on feedback collected remotely from 153 representatives of internally displaced and host communities in Burkina Faso during COVID-19. It argues that while a voice must be given to marginalised communities, it must also be listened to and acted upon. Rather than radio journalism being a loudspeaker for top-down messaging, the study argues that alternative approaches should be adopted in conflict- and pandemic-affected areas. It finds that a balance is needed between the information that listeners feel they need in their new extreme circumstances and the information that radio journalists, drawing on their expertise, feel would be strategically empowering.

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