International news and the image of Africa
New storytellers, new narratives?
in Images of Africa
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This chapter explores the important role of local national journalists in international news bureaus in Africa, and asks whether their presence is changing how Africa is depicted around the Western world. The analysis is framed by a newsroom ethnography of the Thomson-Reuters bureau in Nairobi, one of the largest producers of international news on Africa; as well as thirty additional interviews with foreign correspondents and local journalists based in Nairobi. The ethnography reveals that local journalists frequently disagree with Western correspondents about what news should be produced – often desiring a more localised, and positive perspective of their region; in particular, they attempt to challenge the emphasis on tribal conflict and humanitarian suffering. This clash of values offers a springboard to explore the potential ability of local-national journalists to challenge Western reporting modes and shape the content of foreign news. The chapter concludes that a difficult synthesis is taking place: while local perspectives are increasingly included in news stories, resulting in more nuanced local coverage, structural and organisational barriers mean the news continues to be dominated by a Western-centric mode of reporting, particularly in times of crises.

Images of Africa

Creation, negotiation and subversion

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