City Research Online

Inserting political understanding into the humanitarian narrative

Franks, S. (2013). Inserting political understanding into the humanitarian narrative. Sociologia Della Comunicazione, 45, pp. 22-36. doi: 10.3280/SC2013-045003


Western media reporting of disasters in faraway countries (especially in Africa) frequently follows a template which fails to take account of political circumstances. Very often journalism relies upon familiar stereotypes –using frames such as ‘primitive tribal hatreds' or resorting to explanations based upon ‘natural disaster,’ when there are in fact complex underlying social and political causes to many crises and complex emergencies. This paper will analyse the way that so called ‘humanitarian reporting’ has failed to take account of political explanations with reference to key case studies and explain why this is a matter of vital concern. It will highlight the powerful and consciously apolitical position of international aid agencies and examine the many layered and interrelated factors which contribute to the absence of political analysis in the way that distant crises are described and understood.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: humanitarian; politics; disaster; reporting; crisis; narratives
Subjects: J Political Science
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0.

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