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François Robinet

Manufacturing the coverage of international news : marginalising Africa (1994-2008) ?

Le Temps des médias n°20, Printemps - été 2013, p. 152-167.


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Between 1994 and 2008, the visibility of African conflicts in the public sphere, as relayed by French media, has changed. Only a small number attracted on-going interest in the French media : they included the 1994 events in Rwanda, the first Congo war (1994-1997), the Ivorian conflict (2002-3, and again in November, 2004) and the civil war in Darfur (2004 and 2006-2007).Most other conflicts only awake peripheral interest. Those conflicts that were covered at length benefit from a combination of factors including internal journalistic practices and the interplay between journalists and other actors. The well-known relationship between the number of deaths and the proximity, or not, to France, as a factor that fashion media coverage, is not necessarily decisive ; more depends on the availability of video shots, the relevance of a French view of the conflict, and the role of actors who provide an intelligible reading of the event. The transformation of facts into media events depends less on their intrinsic characteristics than on interpretative frames fashioned by influential actors such as humanitarians, belligerents or the French authorities.

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