This paper uses a new dataset on US media coverage of developing countries to test the hypothesis that the media are an important determinant of US foreign aid flows, all else equal. Controlling for several other determinants of foreign aid distribution it examines whether or not the coverage in major US newspapers and television sources influenced the amount of official development assistance a country receives from the US from 1970-1994. It finds that when a natural disaster, epidemic, or war in a developing country is mentioned in a major US media source five times during a typical five-year period —or an average of once a year—that country receives roughly one percent more in US aid per capita over the course of the period than it would otherwise receive. This is the average effect across countries and over time, and by no means must hold true for any given country at any given time. For some countries, even a small amount of media coverage could be worth millions in aid. This result has direct implications for the cost effectiveness of media relations activities by both nongovernmental and governmental organizations interested in affecting aid levels.
The world’s view of the state of armed conflict is severely distorted, in that it bears almost no resemblance to the actual scale or severity of conflicts in the world. This is primarily due to the highly selective and increasingly assimilated agendas of the media, policymakers, the public and academia. This situation results in ‘stealth conflicts’ – conflicts that are undetected and absent from these agendas. Using the massive conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the prime example of such stealth conflicts, this paper demonstrates how, for the past five years, the largest and deadliest conflict since World War II has been almost completely absent from international consciousness outside the region.
The author of this paper shares many of the concerns of the proponents of humanitarian values, not least the concern to preserve, in the general case, the impartiality and neutrality of humanitarian aid agencies. The focus of this paper is the reporting role played by humanitarian agencies. It examines their role in the sphere of political communication; specifically how certain agencies influenced the struggle over how the events of war were to be represented in mass media in the West. This paper will first elaborate a historical analysis of the Bosnian crisis and its international response. It then briefly outlines an argument about the critical role of Britain and its (TV news) media in the development of Western policy over Bosnia. The role of senior officials of UNHCR and the ICRC is then critically assessed in the context of the wider developments in the mediated conflict itself.
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