Media’s Impact on Aid
Posted on June 19, 2010 at 10:37 am
As everyone in the aid world knows, media coverage, charity advertising, and advocacy impact the types of aid projects that get funded and implemented. ALNAP recently opened a forum on media and disasters. I’d like to expand this to a wider audience and broaden the topic. I welcome your submissions of new or old blog posts, research findings, and standards. What are your thoughts and experiences? What should the average donor or newspaper reporter understand when reading or writing about aid and international development?
The most recently submitted blog posts are located at the top of each section: media, charity advertising, spoofs on charity advertising, stereotypes, advocacy, papers and standards.
Posts on the Media
Hiding the Real Africa – Columbia Journalism Review – Discusses how journalists rely on often inflated numbers or incorrect information from aid organizations.
Good media is good development – 40Brown – “That’s what the folks at Internews, the World Bank and the Brookings Institute believe, and what they hope to convince funders of as well. In fact, according to Tara Susman-Pena and Mark Nelson, who spoke at the UN Digital Media Lounge today, a healthy, well developed media results in government transparency, civic participation, healthier economies, and citizen empowerment.”
Viewing the World – A study of British television coverage of developing countries – DFID – this report found that coverage of disasters and terrorism constitute the bulk of TV news reports, but with little explanation or context.
The Live Aid Legacy: The developing world through British eyes – A research report – VSO – Finds that media and NGOs are complicit in promoting doom-laden pictures.
Kids’ tv shapes our leaders’ foreign policy? – Good Ness Communications – Brings up the possibility that current leaders’ beliefs about foreign policy were impacted by the tv they watched as children.
“The Burn Rate” – Good Intentions are Not Enough – Discusses the pressure to spend money quickly to not get hit by bad publicity.
Debrief on Haiti and disaster communications – Highlights of Wednesday’s panel – Dispatches from Haiti - The summary of a panel discussion on media and PR after the Haiti earthquake.
Lockheed Martin Launches Twitter Research Project – OhMyGov! - “Researchers at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Lab in Cherry Hill, NJ have begun tracking and analyzing tweets in disaster events to find how Twitter and other social networks can be of use during political unrest and conflict.”
Messaging, the media, and Haiti - Chris Blattman – “…looters and thugs on the front page only bolsters impressions that Haitians are ungovernable. This is a tragedy if untrue.”
Avril Benoit about Haiti, U.S. Air Force and Twitter – MSF / Doctors Without Borders – discusses the twitter campaign to let MSF land it’s plane in Haiti.
Lessons from St. Nick (a lonely vuvuzela to a World Cup chorus) - A View From The Cave – Looks at Nicholas Kristof’s reach and what people writing about SmartAid can learn from Kristof.
Rethinking Darfur – CATO Institute – “Darfur has been misunderstood by both policymakers and the general public, leading to problems in crafting policy toward that troubled land.”
Thoughts on “Moonshine or the Kids?” – GiveWell – Analyzes a recent article by Kristof in The New York Times and makes the point that “Mr. Kristof has told an interesting story that points to an interesting hypothesis (perhaps worthy of investigation), but that he’s a long way from making a case for action..”
Triage: News Media and the Disasters that Languish – Wanderlust – Discusses how “natural disasters tend to have a greater pull on the public imagination than war-zones. They are more easily summed up by a photograph or a thirty-second video clip. They can be easily communicated.” They therefore remain longer in the news and receive more donations
Media in Disaster vs Media Disasters (pdf) – Anthropology News - Discusses how news media generally represent disasters as “unchecked chaos” and do not focus on the response of local institutions
A Lesson from Haiti: Are Search and Rescue Teams worth it? – Philanthropy Action – One of several articles looking at the cost/benefit ratio of international search and rescue teams as opposed to other forms of aid
Senator Grassley is Undermining the Humanitarian Sector – Harvard Business Review - looks at the issue of CEO pay in nonprofits
Mind Over Media – Tales from the Hood – Talks about the need to use the interest in Haiti to help educate donors
Which one of these things is not like the other - Change Charity – looks at how the “media portray the continent as dark and troubled, while ignoring or burying any positive aspects of a story.”
foreign affairs|| it’s not that i hate humanitarians - so weird i’m normal - discusses how media tends to focus on the desire of individuals and organizations to do good rather than what they actually accomplish
Bad Donor Advice Perpetuates Bad Aid Practices – Good Intentions are Not Enough – An open letter to the Wall Street Journal in response to their donor advice column
Operating Theater – On the Media – “On CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC, newsmen and women became part of the story, raising ethical questions both medical and journalistic. A former television news producer, a former medical reporter and media ethicists weigh in.”
Posts on Charity Advertising
In Which MSF Follows Our Fake Principles from Our Satricial Advocacy Video Guide – Aid Watch – Another commentary on MSF’s commercial
Hardcore Poverty Porn, brought to you by MSF - Aid Thoughts - Evaluates, and links to, an advertising campaign by Doctors without Borders that was heavily criticized by the blogosphere for it’s content
Do Charity Fundraising Activities Hurt the Very People They are Trying to Help? – Good Intentions are Not Enough – looks at three recent fundraising events and their impact on the aid recipients
Spoofs on Charity Advertising
Starvin’ Marvin – South Park
Only $5 a month – The Onion
Posts on Advocacy
Ethan Zuckerman: The voiceless have a voice – we need to listen - Guardian – “The internet could have a huge impact on development. But we need to listen more to the people we claim to be speaking on behalf of before we act.”
what causes badvocacy? – Texas in Africa
Help Us, Josh Groban, You’re Our Only Hope - Wronging Rights - A satirical article – and great map – of the celebrity recolonization of Africa
Cause. And also effect (or Not) – Tales from the Hood – Talks about whether celebrity led or other causes leads to any actual impact
“Don’t Chase Headlines, Chase Good Quality News… Don’t Be First, Be Accountable.”: A New Agenda for News Media and Humanitarian Aid - ALNAP – “Outlines a series of new opportunities and challenges fordecision makers across the donor, media and humanitarian communities, and points towards a new agenda for news media and humanitarian aid.”
Posts on Stereotypes
Africa: Nicholas Kristof and the psychology of getting people to give – A BOMBASTIC ELEMENT – Discusses ways other than “white man as savior” to draw readers in.
Images of the ‘Dying African’ border on pornography – Daily Nation - Takes on TIMEs recent photo essay of a woman dying from complication of child birth
Dehumanised Africa – Guardian – “Jonathan Freedland’s hopes for better reporting rely on Africans being seen as people – and that’s not currently the case”
People, not Characters – Texas in Africa – discusses how we portray people in the media
How to Write about Africa – Granta – Satirical advice on how to use stereotypes of Africa when writing about it.
How to write about poor people – AidWatch – A play on the article How to Write about Africa
How to Write About Humanitarian Aid Work – Tales from the Hood – A play on the article How to Write about Africa
Child Rights Information Network - The use of images of children in the media
DOCHAS Code of Conduct on Images and Messages
UNICEF’s standards for The Media and Children Rights
The US Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charitable Accountability (Section 15 discusses honesty in charity solicitations)
InterAction’s Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Standards (Section 5 focuses on honesty in charity advertising)