Africa misunderstood

More than 12.5 million people are affected by the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years. Only in Somalia, 750.000 lives are threatened by a devastating famine and tens of thousands have already died. It has been considered the country’s biggest famine in decades.

However, American audience does not really seem to be interested in it, since hardly any information related to this topic can be seen in newspapers’ front pages. Sadly, massive deaths in Africa are not news. As Graber points out, to be published in the United States, foreign news “must have an angle that interest Americans”. They need to identify their lives with what they are being told; otherwise, interest decreases. For this reason, the mainstream media select foreign news that can be somehow related to national affairs.

International news (especially news concerning Africa) are lacking in context. The media may say that something happened in Africa but they do not explain the causes or the long-term consequences. Western image of Africa is fragmentary, disjointed, simplistic and insufficient. In Graber’s words:

They (the news) have no past, and without appropriate follow-ups, they also have no future. They are merely a brief presence in the parade of current events.

Without background interpretation, the media reflect not only an inadequate image of Africa but also a stereotyped perception of it.