How not to write about writing about Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The aim of this chapter is to highlight a number of significant logical flaws and empirical gaps within the existing literature concerned with Africa’s media image. I begin by drawing on the results of a comprehensive scoping review to show that, despite common assumptions, the existing evidence base in this area is insufficient for reaching firm conclusions about how Africa is represented in the US and UK news media. The irony is that a subject area focused on exposing taken-for-granted assumptions is in fact responsible for maintaining its own myth – that we know how Africa is represented in the news media. I further argue that this myth about the comprehensiveness of existing research has persisted for so long, in part, because of certain citation practices and patterns of interpretation within the literature. Finally, I suggest that repeatedly emphasising only the anticipated and problematic aspects of representations of Africa may, inadvertently, end up serving to reinforce the very same ideas that these studies often seek to challenge. If nothing else, generalised critiques about the apparent limitations of all news coverage of Africa can inhibit constructive dialogue with those responsible for producing such coverage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrica's Media Image in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the "Heart of Darkness" to "Africa Rising"
EditorsMel Bunce, Suzanne Franks, Chris Paterson
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315659510
ISBN (Print)9781138962323, 9781138962316
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Africa
  • Representations
  • Media
  • News
  • Journalism

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