Stories in distress: Three case studies in Australian media coverage of humanitarian crises

Journalism Education Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journalism Review, 2004, 26 (1), pp. 19 - 39
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This article reviews three case studies in the Australian media reporting of international humanitarian crises. The case studies cover a six-month period in 1999 and draw on all media over that period. Thethree case studies are: the violence in East TImor at the time of the 1999 independence ballot, the imprisonment in Yugoslavia of Prall and Wallace, two employees of CARE Australia, and the floods in Mozambique. While the three case studies collectively exhibit many of the standard characteristics ofmedia coverage ofhumanitarian issues, individually they differ significantly in the scale and orientation ofcoverage. Wesuggest that a significantfactor in these differences was the relationship between the sources for the stories and the journalists, which in turn depended on other factors. We review the adequacy of the Hall and Ericson positions on the source-journalist relationship in explaining these differences, and suggest that a field analysis derivedfrom Bourdieu is helpful in explaining the involvement ofsources from the political, economic and military fields, which in turn impacted on the relationship ofthe media to the stories.
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