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300,000 Dead, 2.7 million Refugees How good has press coverage of Darfur been? Has it solved the problem? What lessons for Congo coverage?

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Presentation on theme: "300,000 Dead, 2.7 million Refugees How good has press coverage of Darfur been? Has it solved the problem? What lessons for Congo coverage?"— Presentation transcript:

1 300,000 Dead, 2.7 million Refugees How good has press coverage of Darfur been? Has it solved the problem? What lessons for Congo coverage?

2 -Thank you to the Basque Country Committee for the UN High Commission for Refugees for caring -Thank you for inviting me to share our research at the U of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication

3 My presentation has 3 parts 1. How good has the press coverage been? 2. What good has it done? 3. Recommendations for future coverage of Darfur and the Congo

4 What is good coverage? -Comprehensive coverage that includes 1.Who, What, When, How hard news plus 2. Why and So What features and background stories and 3. Quotes from people on the ground (Darfur refugees, human rights monitors) and not only officials -Timely coverage

5 High comprehensive coverage (CC): news papers whose home states did not influence their coverage because they had low national interest in Sudan News daily% of total CC score Interest in Sudan State press owners US W Post70LowNo Fr Le Mon66LowNo SAfr M-G66LowNo US NYT64LowNo UK Guard59LowNo

6 Lower comprehensive coverage (CC): news papers in states with higher national interest in Sudan (water, oil, trade), state role in ownership of the press, local readership/pol constituency News daily% of total CC score Interest in Sudan State ownership Readers’ political constituency AlAhram Arabic 49%Medium (water, pol stab) YesLocal, mass readership China Daily 49%High (oil, trade) YesGlobal, English People’s Dl 35%High (oil, trade YesLocal, mass readership

7 Variation in coverage of crimes against humanity: None of the dailies scored over 70% on the Comprehensive Coverage Index— room for improvement Five news organizations scored around 60% or higher

8 When did the crisis start? When was it first covered substantially? Rebel attack to draw attention to neglect in Feb 2003 Egypt’s Al Ahram Arabic coverage Jun03 China Daily (English) Aug 03 S Africa’s Mail and Guardian Nov 03 11 months later: NYT, LeMonde, UK Guardian 13 months later: Chinese language China Daily 14 months later: Wash Post

9 How many articles with over 50% paragraphs on Darfur in first 26 months? Over 150: SAfr’s Mail and Guardian Over 100: NYT, WPost Over 50: UK Guardian, China Daily (English) Less than 50: Arabic-language AlAhram in neighboring Egypt Chinese language People’s Daily for the masses

10 Did news media express editorial opinions? Over 30% of articles: Wash Post 10-20% of articles: NYT, Al Ahram daily, Guardian, People’s Daily 10%: LeMonde Less than 5%:China Daily, Mail & Guardian

11 How many articles paid attention to the causes of the crisis? Around 30% Wash Post Around 20% Le Monde, Guardian, China Daily, Mail and Guardian, Al Ahram Arabic, NYT Less than 10% People’s Daily

12 How often was the stereotypical perception of ethnic, tribal and racial causes mentioned? -Most frequently mentioned by LeMonde, UK Guardian, South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, China Daily -Regional inequity mentioned most frequently as a cause by NYT, WashPost, Al Ahram Arabic, People’s Daily

13 How many articles mentioned climate change as a cause of the crisis? 30-40% Wash Post, Al Ahram Arabic, China Daily 10-20% NY Times, UK Guardian 8-9% S Africa’s Mail and Guardian, LeMonde

14 How many articles provided details of groups working on ending the crisis? Over 90% China Daily, People’s Daily Around 70% Mail and Guardian South Africa, Le Monde France, Washington Post USA, Guardian of UK 30-40% NYTimes, Al Ahram Daily

15 How many quotes were from human right monitors and non government organizations as sources? 10-15% Washington Post, Mail and Guardian, New York Times 6% China Daily 0% Al Ahram Arabic, People’s Daily

16 Summing up patterns 1. News media from the global South (China, South Africa, Egypt) covered the crisis earliest, but China and Egypt’s news media provided least details, scoring lowest on comprehensive coverage. Thus, the state-owned press from the global South gave least attention to negative events among one of their own.

17 Patterns (contd.) 2. Dailies located in states with higher national interest in good relations with the Khartoum government (for reasons of water, political stability, oil and trade) gave less coverage to this negative news.

18 Patterns (contd.) 3. The privately–owned dailies gave more attention to Darfur than state-owned dailies constrained by their intergovernmental relationships.

19 Patterns contd. News dailies owned by the same organization (namely, Communist Party of China) covered the news on Darfur differently for its different political-linguistic constituencies. China Daily produced for the English-speaking global community strategically provided more comprehensive coverage than the People’s Daily produced for local-language speakers who have no alternative source of news

20 What good has this coverage of Darfur done? In 1915, 1 million Armenians were killed in spite of very good coverage in 145 articles in the New York Times. The US, British and German governments did nothing to stop the genocide then. We can hope that the Obama administration will live up to its election promises and act on Darfur now.

21 The Samantha Power book (A Problem from Hell 2002) on the major genocides of the 20 th century shows: -despite graphic media coverage, policymakers, journalists and citizens are extremely slow to muster the imagination to reckon with evil -the real reason the US did not do what it should have is lack of political will, not lack of knowledge

22 Power lists the following actions that could make a difference: -creating awareness of genocide -highlighting activities needed to stop it -shaming governments for inaction

23 Recommendations for reporters: Use sources strategically to set the agenda for policymakers, to initiate thinking and discussion on specific prevention, remedy and punishment options for crimes against humanity rather than reporting them only when they happen to be raised. This agenda is based on journalists having historical knowledge of what might have helped in past genocidal wars, e.g economic sanctions, freezing foreign assets, prosecuting perpetrators and closing their embassies

24 Recommendations for journalism educators: produce specialist reporters with knowledge of the history of particular problems (in this case, genocide) who can suggest alternatives for action by strategic use of sources. Darfur is unresolved and the war in east Congo needs advanced analysis

25 Recommendations for EACNUR: Encourage the UN’s Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) and the Rome- based Inter Press Service to do what news organizations constrained by state politics find it hard to do.

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