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Title: The Gemini News Service : journalism, geopolitics and the decolonisation of the news, 1967-2002?
Author: Crowson, Ashley Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 5075
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the role of ‘alternative’ international journalism – broadly conceived – in geopolitics. Theoretically anchored in the typically poststructuralist and discourse-focussed subdiscipline of critical geopolitics, and drawing on literature from journalism and media studies, it is concerned with journalistic constructions of the Global South during the latter half of the twentieth century. Its central case study is the Gemini News Service, an ‘alternative’ news features agency, active 1967-2002, which focussed on providing news coverage of and for the Global South and, crucially, having journalists in the Global South report about the places they were from. The agency was opposed to the superficial, conflict-ladened ‘parachute’ reporting of the hegemonic, Western-controlled global media and sought to utilise its large network of freelance journalists to provide more, ‘better’, ‘fuller’ and ‘richer’ accounts of the newly-postcolonial world. It supplied analytical, long-form articles to more than 100 subscribing newspapers; combining the readership of these titles, Gemini advertised that it had a daily audience of ‘millions’ for its journalistic content. This thesis will argue that these dispatches were, in many senses, an alternative to the geopolitical renderings of the hegemonic global news media. Gemini’s popular geopolitical discourses actively rejected the notion of a world characterised by a binary superpower rivalry, insisting, instead, that it was the attainment of independence and the fights for more equitable and just forms of global governance by scores of states, new on the international scene, that defined the geopolitics of this era. The thesis asks questions of Gemini’s alterity and concludes that while the agency may have been considered ‘radical’ in many traditional journalistic circles, there were numerous practical, conceptual and cultural constraints that prevented it from producing a popular journalistic geopolitics that was counterhegemonic or decolonising. This thesis, then, considers Gemini’s articles to be significant producers, for a wide international readership, of geopolitical ‘knowledge’ about the decolonising and newly-postcolonial world. It contends that critical engagement with popular geopolitics has largely ignored such ostensibly ‘alternative’ ways of ‘knowing’ and representing the world and seeks, therefore, to unearth and highlight these overlooked means by which a large number of people – predominantly in the Global South – gained a mediated experience of geopolitics and an understanding of their place within it. It contends, though, that in thinking about the (de)colonisation of popular journalistic ‘knowledge’ it is crucial to also consider the subject of journalism itself, as a practice, ideology, profession and set of texts with distinct philological characteristics. It argues that Gemini, alongside a host of other actors who have sought to intervene on this issue, have thought about the decolonisation of the popular news media solely in terms of representation: the felicitous representation of (formerly) colonised peoples in the pages of newspapers and the representation of people of colour on the staff of journalistic outlets. In addressing the colonisation of journalism, we also need to consider how the international journalistic field is characterised by professional ideologies, norms and practices particular to Western historical, political and social contexts, yet widely assumed to be universally applicable. We need to consider the particular (racialised, classed and gendered) cultures, hierarchies and political economies of journalism, all of which significantly influence the nature of journalistic ‘knowledge’ production. In addition, then, to textual analysis of Gemini’s popular journalistic material, the thesis investigates the extent to which ostensibly ‘alternative’, Global South-oriented journalistic institutions engaged in alternative journalistic practices and adopted alternative ways of ‘knowing’ and representing global space and global politics. This helps us to understand not only how – by various discursive and rhetorical means – these outlets constructed geopolitical space, but also why they produced geopolitics as they did; in Gemini’s case, constructing a sparsely-populated, masculinist vision of global politics, in which all but the state and the state’s political elite were rendered invisible and denied any meaningful agency. It is hoped that this focus on how the decolonisation of journalism has been constrained by widespread notions of Western epistemological supremacy in the journalistic field, common journalistic conventions, and the culture of professional journalism will prove useful for ongoing, and much needed, attempts to decolonise the news media. This thesis also demonstrates the fruitfulness for critical geopolitics of considering carefully the (material, cultural, practical and ideological) historical geographies of popular media production. It makes the case for the importance of engaging, in tandem, with journalistic geopolitics – the discursive construction of global political space by the professional news media – and with the geopolitics of journalism – the spatio-political factors that shape journalistic production and consumption – and proposes that a distinct, and methodologically and conceptually pluralistic, stream of scholarship within critical geopolitics, formed to further such research, could bear fruit.
Supervisor: Craggs, Ruth Jane ; Schofield, Richard Neill Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available