MECM90009 Global Crisis Reporting
1) ‘Contemporary news media occupy a key position in the public definition
and elaboration of global crises and are often far more than just conduits
for their wider public recognition…global crises become variously
constituted within news media as much as communicated by them.’ (Cottle,
2009: 2). Using this statement as a starting point, and referring to at least
one example or area of crisis reporting, develop an argument that critically
reflects on how media are implicated in the social production of crisis.
2) Far from enabling serious engagement with the causes and impacts of
humanitarian crises, media coverage actually contributes to the
perpetuation of endemic crisis. Discuss this statement, providing an
argument for why you agree and/or disagree with it.
3) ‘Certainly the media communicate harrowing representations of others,
but the more the face of the other is communicated and reproduced in this
way the more it is denuded of any moral authority it might otherwise
possess’ (Tester, 1994: 130). Using this statement as a starting point,
develop an argument that critically evaluates the media’s potential and
capacity to foster cosmopolitan awareness and action. Refer to one or more
examples to support your argument.
4) Using examples to support your argument, discuss the extent to which
Roger Silverstone’s idea of ‘proper distance’, and the concept of the
‘mediapolis’, provides a helpful or inadequate basis for considering the
role and responsibilities of journalists and media outlets in the reporting of
5) ‘Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and
cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they
still perform a vital function. The images say: “This is what human beings
are capable of doing – may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-
righteously. Don’t forget”’ (Sontag, 2003: 102). Taking this statement as a
starting point, and referring to one or more examples, develop an
argument that assesses the importance and/or limitations of media
imagery of human suffering.
6) While much media coverage of asylum seekers and refugees has been
found to focus on negative discourses such as deviancy, threat, and
invasion, other coverage has sought to show a more human face to the
refugee crisis. Drawing on examples, develop an argument that critically
evaluates the significance of framing for media representations of asylum
seekers and refugees, and reflects on the implications for wider public
understanding and action on this issue.
7) In the wake of the death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, many media
outlets around the world were united in offering sympathetic accounts of
the tragic loss of life on the Mediterranean Sea and the hardships faced by
refugees fleeing civil war in Syria. Should such instances be celebrated, or
do they serve only to highlight that such coverage remains the exception
rather than the rule when it comes to media coverage of asylum seekers
8) Despite the well-documented limitations of crisis reporting, it remains the
case that an understanding of the ‘media logic’ through which public
knowledge of humanitarian issues is largely constituted is central to any
efforts to addressing those issues.’ Using this statement as a starting point,
discuss the question of how far humanitarian campaigners should
incorporate ‘media logics’, taking into consideration both their potential
contribution and shortcomings for achieving humanitarian goals.
9) Using examples to support your argument, discuss the extent to which
Martin Bell’s idea of a ‘journalism of attachment’, and a journalistic ethics
of ‘bearing witness’, provides a helpful or inadequate basis for considering
the role and responsibilities of journalists in the reporting of global crises?
10) While it is easy to morally denounce journalists and point to problematic
forms of coverage, confronting the challenges of crisis reporting requires a
deeper analysis. Referring to examples, develop an argument that
identifies logistical, ethical, professional and personal issues confronting
journalists reporting crises and discusses how these are, or might be,
11) ‘[T]he problem of images and perception cannot be separated from the
methodology of intervention’ (Nash and van der Gaag 1987: 77). Referring
to a particular area of, and/or one or more examples of, either crisis
reporting or humanitarian campaigning, develop an argument that
evaluates the significance of representation for humanitarian outcomes.
12) Referring to one or more examples in developing your response, develop
an argument that critically evaluates the value and/or problems of
‘celebrity humanitarianism’ as a means for increasing awareness of, and
addressing, human suffering and/or global issues.
13) In an age of ‘selfie humanitarianism’, helping others ‘is increasingly
figured less in terms of redistribution or justice than in terms of a
makeover of subjectivity for all concerned’ (Koffman, Orgad and Gill, 2015:
157). Taking this statement as a starting point, develop an argument that
critically evaluates the value and/or problems of ‘selfie humanitarianism’
as a means for increasing awareness of, and addressing, human suffering
and/or global crises.
14) Referring to one or more examples, develop an argument that critically
evaluates how far innovative forms of media activism, facilitated by the
affordances of mobile and digital media, may be seen to effectively
challenge the power relations that have been historically characteristic of
15) Communication is often seen as a means to achieving an end goal such as
raising awareness or funds, but Livia Hinegardner (2009) argues that
communication can be an end in itself. Explain what Hinegardner means
by this, and develop an argument that critically reflects on what this shift
in perception might mean for the way we evaluate the ‘success’ or
‘effectiveness’ of humanitarian campaigns or global crisis reporting more
Note: Please consult the essay guidance notes on LMS and in the subject reader.