Media coverage of the african continent Essay


This thesis contemplates long standing issues environing media coverage of the African continent. Previous surveies have shown a systematic tendency amongst Western journalists to picture current events in developing states, peculiarly African states, from a negative and oversimplified position. It examines why of import events in less-developed parts of the universe frequently have their world distorted in the Western media. Unfortunate precedency has shown that this is peculiarly relevant to the Western media in the context of its questionable behavior in covering the African continent.

The media portraiture of the unrest in Sudan ‘s troubled Darfur part appears to reflect the mistakes that frequently lurk amidst the work of journalists covering human-centered calamities in distant lands. In malice of Gerard Prunier ‘s appraisal of the force as the “quintessential ‘African crisis ‘ : esoteric, highly violent, rooted in complex cultural and historical factors which few understood, and devoid of any identifiable practical involvement for rich states, ” Darfur generated an unforeseen sum of involvement in the West. It rapidly became the cause celebre amongst people on both sides of the political divide.

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Darfur ‘s power to exceed political relations was most evident in April 2006 as 1000s of Americans converged into the state ‘s capital to appeal for greater action to stop the alleged race murder in Sudan. Republican senators joined Democrats such as Barack Obama to press the Bush disposal to take a more decisive attack to undertake the crisis and aid safeties get awaying the force. Although the event attracted outstanding talkers including famous persons, politicians, jocks and Baronial Peace Prize victors such as Elie Wiesel, the majority of the crowd was comprised of ordinary Americans who donned blindfolds to press political determination shapers non to look off from the atrociousnesss taking topographic point in Darfur.The media ‘s portion in this event can non be overstated. As struggles in distant countries of the Earth have small impact on the lives of ordinary Western citizens, irrespective of the magnitude of the force, the extent to which an ordinary individual knows and attentions is wholly contingent on the degree of media coverage a struggle is granted. As such, the mass media has monolithic power in determining both a authorities ‘s foreign policy and the populace ‘s imaginativeness of state of affairss around the Earth. The media ‘s influence in finding the perceptual experience of the Darfur struggle was peculiarly unmeasurable because in most cases it was the lone image outside perceivers in the West received of the crisis itself.

As a effect of the media ‘s heed to the blossoming calamity in Sudan, they were able to trip a sophisticated and popular human rights run. Coupled with protagonism organisations such as the Save Darfur Coalition, an improbable confederation of broad and conservative groups, the mainstream media in the United States exposed their audiences to the atrociousnesss that were blossoming in the Sub-saharan state.Yet, as Darfur explosion onto the universe ‘s consciousness in mid-2004 and became the Western media ‘s favorite every bit far as coverage was concerned, depressingly similar eruptions of force in Africa at the clip, including in Uganda and the Congo, were all but overlooked.

As such, this thesis aims to understand how a ‘quintessential African crisis ‘ became an international issue that garnered Western empathy and generated an unexpected degree of imperativeness involvement. Basically, how did an internal crisis in a distant country of Sudan, where the concerns were chiefly local, manage to capture the attending of candidates and authors in the West? If we are to accept Susan Moeller ‘s claims that audience understandings towards foreign deceases have hardened, and that the American populace is mostly interested in intelligence events related to their ain state, how did the narration of Darfur, a narrative that does non incorporate an obvious American connexion, overcome public apathy when other tragediesinAfricaare frequently unable to?To better understand why Darfur was prioritized in the Western media and to better determine why certain foreign events became intelligence the manner they do, this thesis will analyze the media imperativeness coverage of Darfur in the Washington Post and the New York Times during the first three old ages of the struggle. These two American newspapers were ab initio chosen for this survey because of their high circulation Numberss ( 601,669 and 1.

65 million severally ) and the value that both these media organisations place on covering international personal businesss despite their opponent political propensities. Furthermore, during the preliminary choice procedure to make up one’s mind which newspapers to analyse in this thesis, it rapidly became apparent that compared to their challengers, the Washington Post and the New York Times had non employed intelligence wire services such as Reuters and the Associated Press for their articles. These two American newspapers largely relied upon their ain letter writers and journalists to present narratives from the land, either from Sudan itself or from neighbouring Chad.

In add-on to the published articles from the Washington Post and the New York Times, Britain ‘s Guardian newspaper has been included in this survey for critical scrutiny as it offers a alone chance to look into whether a newspaper ‘s national association and political civilization has any impact on the presentation of the Darfur issue.

Methodological Approach And Organization Of This Thesis

This thesis is divided into five subdivisions. The 2nd chapter will turn to the cardinal inquiry: how did the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Guardian study on the Darfur struggle and what were the outstanding subjects and media bordering devices apparent in their articles? This chapter will analyze the content ( what the journalists covered ) and the signifier ( how the journalists covered the struggle ) . Due to the range of analyzing three newspapers over a three twelvemonth period, this thesis will concentrate on critical minutes in media coverage of the Darfur catastrophe. As such, this chapter and the thesis at big is non a quantitative survey of the media intervention of Darfur. Rather, it simply attempts to foreground the extremums and depressions of media coverage in order to determine the grounds behind the fluctuating imperativeness involvement.

Five decisive minutes will be studied: 2003 in its entireness, April 2004, June 2004, September 2004 and January 2005The 3rd chapter will supply an extended review of the media representation of the force in Darfur and size up the subjects that emerged from the three newspapers in inquiry. The intent of this peculiar subdivision is to turn to whether the Western newspapers in inquiry suitably covered or mishandled the Darfur crisis. By researching the building of Arab and African individuality in the Sudanese context, this thesis will analyse and explicate how through the usage of affectional linguistic communication and framing, the American imperativeness were able to make and solidify a deceptive image of the crisis as a genocidal run instigated by Arabs against an autochthonal African population. It will turn to the contention environing Darfur ‘s race murder position under international jurisprudence. With this aim in head, this thesis will mention to ‘genocide ‘ merely as it was defined by the United Nations in 1948. This chapter besides seeks to expose of import dimensions to the struggle that many journalists overlooked as they peddled one convenient version of the force at the disbursal of critical grounds.

The latter portion of the thesis will pull upon seminal postcolonial theory to explicate why Darfur captured the public imaginativeness and the attending of Western journalists. It will analyze whether the media ‘s involvement and frequent deceit of Darfur can be read in the larger context of a new Orientalist discourse. This chapter will besides endeavour to research the possible grounds and motivations behind the Western media involvement in Darfur.

Literature Review

Foreign intelligence narratives related to the African continent are frequently characterized by images of tribal warfare, rampant disease, political instability, dearth and despotic governments. These unpleasant deceits of African issues have been closely studied since the ‘New World Information and Communication Order ‘ arguments of the seventiess. The historical media arguments were instigated by developing non-aligned provinces as a response to the lopsided transportation of mass communicating content from Western states to poorer states that frequently reflected the penchants of Western intelligence bureaus.

Scholars such as Hassan M. El Zein, Anne Cooper and Melissa Wall have all acknowledged its relevancy to modern-day media treatments. These bookmans insist that the inclination amongst Western media organisations to disproportionately concentrate on the negative, the violent and the alien when it comes to covering developing parts and peculiarly African issues did non stop with the great media arguments of the seventiess.Their findings are non dissimilar to Abiodun Goke-Pariola ‘s contention that the Africa continent as a whole suffers from a long pattern of media disregard and when African issues are finally acknowledged in the Western imperativeness, the narratives and images are permeated with stereotypes and figure of speechs that have persisted since the clip of bondage and imperialism. The 53 distinguishable states that make the African continent are frequently treated as a homogeneous entity comprised of barbarian pagans who are unable to regulate themselves.

If and when Africans are shown in the western media, Goke-Pariola argues that they are on a regular basis portrayed to be hapless, incapacitated and malnourished. Michael Maren points out that such in writing descriptions and imagination work to progress the impression that the dwellers of African are reliant on the compassionate West for their endurance.Whilst studies in the Western imperativeness about struggles on the African continent are often crisis-driven in such a manner as to insinuate that the dwellers are of course more prone to force, journalists seldom make reference of the West ‘s connexion to the force. In his article titled American Media and African Culture, Bosah Ebo emphasizes the deficiency of historical context in media narratives about the 1994 Rwandan race murder. Ebo notes that Western journalists covering Rwanda repeatedly failed to do the association between the on-going civil war and the impact of the Belgian colonial bequest of politicising Rwandan ethnicity by opposing Hutus against Tutsis in their ‘divide and regulation ‘ scheme. Alternatively, the race murder was portrayed as another African crisis fuelled by irrational tribal hatred.

Wall echoes similar sentiments in a comparative survey of the Rwandan and Bosnian crises. In her analysis of American newspaper coverage of the two struggles, Wall found that whilst the ethnically motivated force in Bosnia was framed as an aberrance for Europeans, despite the largest race murder happening in Germany, the struggle in Rwanda was portrayed as standard behaviour for Africans. David Gordon and Howard Wolpe have claimed that this degree of misunderstanding and formulaic media intervention of the African ‘continent as little more than a mammoth basket instance ‘ foliages Western audiences with an unconscious sense of cultural, rational and political high quality. As most Americans have ne’er visited Africa and likely ne’er will, the images of the African continent that most Americans hold to be existent and reliable come courtesy of the media. This position of Africa as the ‘dark continent ‘ is chiefly based on imperativeness coverage and is besides ‘an branch of a deeply buried, cardinal set of cultural premises about race and civilisation that have been constructing in Western civilization for at least four hundred old ages. ‘Despite this extended scholarship on the mass media ‘s portraiture of Africa, modest research issues in the field of Darfur and the media. Much like David Campbell ‘s Geopolitics and Visuality: Spying the Darfur struggle, this thesis is limited to the survey of modern-day events in Western Sudan. In his survey of the photo-journalism of the Darfur struggle, Campbell found that most exposures were in writing images of hungering and deceasing adult females and babes in refugee cantonments.

Unlike Campbell ‘s survey nevertheless, this thesis attempts to travel beyond content analysis that mostly corroborates anterior surveies on media casing of African issues. It endeavors to grok the spring of human-centered good will that the atrociousnesss in Darfur produced in the West and the possibility that strategic geopolitical involvements played a function in the media ‘s intense involvement in the struggle.Pippa Norris, Politics and the Imperativeness: The News Media and Their Influences ( Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997 ) , 23 ; Eronini R. Megwa and Ike S. Ndolo, “Media image and development: political and economic deductions of U. S. media coverage of Africa, ” in Development and democratisation in the Third World: myths, hopes, and real properties, erectile dysfunction. Kenneth E.

Bauzon ( Washington: Crane Russak, 1992 ) , 267-272.Gerard Prunier, Darfur: the equivocal race murder ( New York: Cornell University Press, 2005 ) , 124.For a elaborate analysis of media power and the CNN consequence, the theory that postulates that the modern mass media have a important bearing on the behavior of foreign policy, see Piers Robinson, “Operation Restore Hope and the Illusion of a News Driven Media Intervention.” Political Studies 49 ( 2001 ) : 942.Prunier, Darfur: the equivocal race murder, 124.Susan D.

Moeller, Compassion weariness: how the media sell disease, dearth, war, and decease ( London: Routledge, 1999 ) , 11.William Preston, Jr. , Edward S.

Herman, and Herbert I. Schiller, Hope & A ; folly: the United States and Unesco, 1945-1985 ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989 ) , 296.A.Goke-Pariola, Africa in the “New World Order” : Old Assumptions, Myths, and Reality, available from hypertext transfer protocol: //www. accno=ED347842 ; [ 24 June 2009 ]Michael Maren, The route to hell: the harrying effects of foreign assistance and international charity ( New York: Free Press, 1997 ) , 13.Bosah Ebo, “American Media and African Culture” in Africa ‘s media image, ed.Beverly G. Hawk ( New York: Praeger, 1992 ) , 18.

Ibid.Melissa Wall, “A ‘pernicious new strain of the Old Nazi virus ‘ and an ‘orgy of tribal slaughter: A comparing of US intelligence magazine coverage of the crises in Bosnia and Rwanda.” 59 ( 1997 ) : 411-428David F.Gordon, & A ; Howard Wolpe, “The Other Africa: An End to Afro-Pessimism.” World Policy Journal 15 ( 1998 ) : 9E. J. Murphy, The African Mythology: Old and New.

( Storrs, CT: World Education Project, 1973 ) , 1.David Campbell, “Geopolitics and visuality: Spying the Darfur struggle, ” Political Geography 26, ( 2007 ) : 357-382.


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