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Title: Famine, politics, aid and the media
Author: Franks, Suzanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 7984
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2007
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The BBC Coverage of the Ethiopian Famine in 1984-5 was an iconic news event. It is widely believed to have had an unprecedented impact, challenging perceptions of Africa and mobilising public opinion and philanthropic action in a dramatic new way. As such it offers a case study of the media impact on public opinion and the policy making process. The research, using for the first time privileged access to BBC and Government archives, examines and reveals the internal factors which drove the BBC news. It constructs the process which accounts for the immensity of the news event, as well as following the response to public opinion pressure into the heart of Government. In addition, it shows that whilst the reporting and the altruistic festival that it produced were to trigger remarkable and identifiable changes, this impact was not where the conventional account claimed it to have been. Moreover it demonstrates that the contemporary configuration of aid, media pressure, aid agencies and government policy is still directly affected and in some ways distorted by what was - as this narrative shows - also an inaccurate and misleading story. In popular memory the reporting of Ethiopia and the humanitarian intervention were a great success. Yet alternative interpretations give a radically different picture that the reporting was misleading and the resulting aid effort did more harm than good. This thesis explains the event within the wider context of foreign reporting, especially by the BBC, and also within the history of the period, and argues that the impact of the media is always historically determined - an aspect of the analysis of media effects that is often ignored.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available