Reporting Disasters by Suzanne Franks

Professor Franks' new book; Reporting Disasters
Professor Franks’ new book; Reporting Disasters

Reporting Disasters (2013, Hurst) by Professor Suzanne Franks scrutinises news coverage of the Ethiopian Famine in 1984-5: an iconic news event widely believed to have changed perceptions of Africa, and mobilised public opinion and philanthropic action in a dramatic new way.

In popular memory, the reporting of the Ethiopian famine and the resulting humanitarian intervention were a great success. Using privileged access to BBC and Government archives, Reporting Disasters questions this account. It examines the internal factors that drove BBC news and shows that, while the reporting and the altruistic festival that it produced triggered remarkable and identifiable changes, the ongoing impact was far more ambiguous.