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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 9. Conclusion




Debates about NGOs’ role in the production of African news have been heated. But until now, there has been little systematic research which allowed us to identify its effects on journalism, NGO-work and the representation of the continent. Instead, critics have tended to hypothesize on the basis of limited evidence: drawn either from their personal experiences as practitioners (Beckett 2008; Frontline 2008, 2015) or from studies of aid agencies’ participation in the coverage of famines and other crises (Franks 2010, 2013; Lugo-Ocando and Malaolu 2014). This book was designed to address that lacuna: analyzing journalists’ use of multimedia provided by a range of different NGOs during a very different kind of news-making period.

This was a “quiet” news week, during which no joint appeals, major conferences or parliamentary sessions were planned which related to a sub-Saharan country. This should not be read as a “normal”, “average” or “representative” news week, as there is no such thing in international news production. Instead, I aimed to develop general theory by exploring contrasting cases, which enabled me to test and refine existing hypotheses and working assumptions. In so doing, I also aimed to avoid the kinds of negative cherry-picking which tend to characterize other studies about the media representation of the continent (Scott 2017).←245 | 246→

This book is unusual for a further three reasons. First, it avoids the fragmentation of previous research, by attending to the perspectives and practices of multiple actors...

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