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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 6. Online Slideshows, “Selling In”, and Moral Education: BBC News Online and Save the Children




BBC News Online and Save the Children

Online news offers journalists exciting opportunities to tell stories in new, multimodal ways, the most common of which is the photo slideshow (Caple and Knox 2012; Jacobson 2010; Lillie 2011). These slideshows are frequently found on sites claiming to offer “global” news to international audiences, and involve a sequence of images, minimal text, and sometimes, music or audio (Engebretsen 2014; Roosvall 2014). In war reporting, they tend to be presented as “hard news” (Caple and Knox 2012), but otherwise, they are usually framed as softer “human interest” items which focus on the personal experiences of one individual or a small group of individuals (Engebretsen 2014). These kinds of frames have often been seen as depoliticizing and decontextualizing suffering (Cottle and Nolan 2007). But they cater to online audiences’ preference for personalized and emotionally compelling stories, as well as visually arresting multimedia (Sambrook et al. 2013).

Audience popularity is of vital commercial importance to most online news sites because news managers use metric data proving how many users visit the site, and how much they interact with it, to attract potential advertisers (Currah 2009). Attracting more advertisers is particularly important at a time when online adverts are worth far less than print adverts. However, audience metrics have a complex relationship with the production of news←155 | 156→ about Africa—they don’t tend to drive which stories journalists cover,...

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