City Research Online

The neglect of Africa and the power of aid

Franks, S. (2010). The neglect of Africa and the power of aid. International Communication Gazette, 72(1), pp. 71-84. doi: 10.1177/1748048509350339


Since the end of colonial rule, Africa has on the whole been inadequately covered by the western media. It is rarely reported except as a backdrop to disaster or as the scene of a celebrity visit. There is an absence of sustained and well-informed reporting about Africa in the mainstream media. And when the media do cover it they often get the story very wrong, partly because there is no ongoing understanding of and engagement with the continent. Using exclusive access to the BBC archive, the article examines how and why media coverage of Africa has been misleading and misinformed in the postcolonial period. It examines the extent to which the close relationship between media coverage and aid agencies has damaged the cause of informing the public. Aid agencies have seen a huge growth since the mid-1980s - partly precipitated by the power of media imagery. As media organizations have reduced their commitment to investing in reporting on Africa so journalists have in turn become more dependent upon aid agencies, which have filled a vacuum. This symbiotic relationship requires a degree of transparency otherwise there is a danger that it can compromise journalistic accountability.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Africa; aid; humanitarian disaster; media; NGO; reporting;
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
SWORD Depositor:
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