Global humanitarianism and the changing aid-media field: “Everyone was dying for footage"

Simon Cottle, D Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)


The crucial interaction between humanitarian agencies and the media has been researched in the past but today it continues to evolve and change—and not for the better. This article, drawing on accounts from communications managers working inside the world's major aid agencies (Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision, CARE and Médecins sans Frontières), examines how communication strategies designed to raise awareness, funds and support have assimilated to today's pervasive “media logic”. In the increasingly crowded and competitive field of humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now seek to “brand” themselves in the media; they purposefully use celebrities and produce regionalized and personalized “media packages” to court media attention; and they reflexively expend time and resources warding off increased risks of mediated scandals. In such ways, aid agencies have become increasingly embroiled in the practices and predilections of the global media and can find their organizational integrity impugned and communication aims compromised. These developments imperil the very ethics and project of global humanitarianism that aid agencies historically have done so much to promote. © 2007 Taylor Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-878
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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