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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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I remember vividly the day I first used multimedia from a Non-Governmental Organization. It was back in 2003, when I was a journalist working on Newshour, the English-language flagship for BBC World Service Radio. My editor was emphatically not a morning person. He was slumped at his desk, mainlining strong coffee and trying to make it through the pre-dawn editorial meeting with at least a modicum of courtesy. “The thing is Kate”, he explained in a long-suffering manner, “war in the Congo is not new. Millions of people have been dying there for seven bloody years, so why cover it today? What’s new?”

He had me there. One more militia attack, however vicious, was just one more militia attack, even to our engaged global audience. I didn’t even have a correspondent on the ground to help me develop a sharper, more unusual news line. He was over a thousand kilometers away covering an important political rally. But the accounts coming through on the wires were enough to make me blink away tears. The civilian death toll was just getting higher and higher. Eye witnesses described seeing piles of mutilated bodies, including those of children. Surely the world should know about this? Surely it was important, precisely because the violence showed no signs of stopping?

As a journalist with nearly a decade of experience under my belt, I was well aware that news coverage didn’t always bring about a political response.←ix | x→ But I...

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