The second speaker in NT&T’s research seminar series is Ghent University’s Stijn Joye (profile page in Dutch). On March 6, 2009, Stijn will give a talk about his current research project on media representations of humanitarian crises. Admission is free, but registration is required. Drop us a line if you would like to attend. Venue: Decanaat Hoveniersberg, 10:30-12:00.
Breaking news or forgotten emergency? Unravelling imbalances in news coverage of humanitarian crises through Critical Discourse Analysis.
This study explores the mediatised representation of international humanitarian crises, with a focus on three natural disasters occurring in the USA and Indonesia. Applying Critical Discourse Analysis as defined by Fairclough (1995), we have investigated the way Belgian public broadcaster VRT covered these emergencies by unravelling the underlying power relations and hierarchies. Suffering in the USA was portrayed as comprehensible, ethically acceptable and close to the spectator who could identify with the distant other. The Indonesian disaster was in contrast presented as no cause for concern or action which blocked the engagement with the distant sufferers who were portrayed as Others, with a capital ‘o’. In general, the data support the claim that our Western news media reproduce a certain kind of world order, mainly a Eurocentric one. This paper argues that mediatised representations of humanitarian crises do not challenge the current global order and power hierarchies between countries and people.