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Hungry but silent : a content analysis of media reporting on the 2011-2012 famine in Somalia

By Richard Stupart


This dissertation examines media coverage of the 2011- 2012 famine in Somalia by the websites of BBC News, CNN and Al Jazeera. Using both quantitative and qualitative content analyses, it asks why coverage of the famine began as late as it did, despite ample evidence of the coming famine. It further surveys the famine-related news reports for evidence of four paradigms through which the causes of famine can be understood; as a Malthusian competition between population and land, as a failure of food entitlements as conceived of by Sen (1981), as critical political event (Edkins, 2004), or as an issue of criminality (Alex de Waal, 2008). Findings include a dramatic silencing of victim’s accounts of famine, despite a reliance on their photographic images, as well as an overwhelming preference for Malthusian accounts of the famine. Late media coverage is explored via a new-values paradigm which links the sudden outburst of media coverage for the famine to a formal UN declaration, and suggests that this may have created a new elite-relevance to the event which did not exist before, and therefore making it of relevance to domestic publics

Topics: Famines--Political aspects--Somalia, Somalia--In mass media, Famines in mass media
Publisher: Faculty of the Humanities, School of Journalism, Journalism and Media Studies
Year: 2013
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Provided by: SEALS Digital commons
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