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Who's Reporting Africa Now?

Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists, and Multimedia

Kate Wright

As news organizations cut correspondent posts and foreign bureaux, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have begun to expand into news reporting. Why and how do journalists use the photographs, video, and audio that NGOs produce? What effects does this have on the kinds of stories told about Africa? And how have these developments changed the nature of journalism and NGO-work?

Who’s Reporting Africa Now?: Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists, and Multimedia is the first book to address these questions—using frank interviews and internal documents to shed light on the workings of major news organizations and NGOs, collaborating with one another in specific news production processes. These contrasting case studies are used to illuminate the complex moral and political economies underpinning such journalism, involving not only NGO press officers and journalists but also field workers, freelancers, private foundations, social media participants, businesspeople, and advertising executives.

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Chapter 2. NGOs, News Organizations, and Freelancers : An Overview

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NGOS, NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, AND FREELANCERS

An Overview

Although trust in all public institutions is falling, NGOs are still the most trusted kinds of institutions in the world (Edelman 2017). Some are huge and phenomenally wealthy: the largest International NGOs (INGOs) work in scores of countries and have budgets bigger than the governments of many developing nations (Yanacopulos 2015). There are also more than 30,000 local and national NGOs whose work has an international focus—and new NGOs are being created all the time (Union of International Associations 2015). Yet it is notoriously difficult to define what an NGO actually is.

Most academics take a broad, negative approach, defining NGOs as “formal, non-statutory and non-profit-making organizations” (Deacon 2003, 99). This is an approach which has been strongly shaped by documents published by the United Nations or UN. But the UN’s first attempt at defining NGOs was nothing more than a hastily inserted clause in its Charter (1945), which mentions private groups who wished to be consulted in intergovernmental processes, but which are not inter-governmental agencies (Article 71, discussed in Lang 2013). Subsequent UN documents have continued to take a broad, negative approach: stating that organizations may be called NGOs if they do not use violent means, or seek to replace an existing government.←35 | 36→

This therefore excludes political parties, national liberation and guerrilla organizations, as well as animal rights and Pro-Life organizations which use violent means (Martens 2003;...

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