1st Edition

Compassion Fatigue How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death

By Susan D. Moeller Copyright 1998
    398 Pages
    by Routledge

    In her impassioned new book, Compassion Fatigue, Moeller warns that the American media threatens our ability to understand the world around us. Why do the media cover the world in the way that they do? Are they simply following the marketplace demand for tabloid-style international news? Or are they creating an audience that has seen too much--or too little--to care? Through a series of case studies of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"--disease, famine, death and war--Moeller investigates how newspapers, newsmagazines and television have covered international crises over the last two decades, identifying the ruts into which the media have fallen and revealing why.


    Susan D. Moeller is Director of the Journalism Program and Associate Professor of American Studies at Brandeis University. She has worked as a journalist for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat (1989).

    "Moeller's patient dissection of media is a penetrating analysis, concluding that after more and more death and war, disease and worse, consumers just get tire of caring. Change is needed." -- Morton Times-News
    "...thought-provoking...an important resource for journalism schools..." -- The Evening Post
    "[Moeller] provides challenging detail and analysis [and] raises uncomfortable truths in a readable, provocative manner." -- The Australian
    "Compassion Fatigue is a reportorial and moral success... [Moeller] demonstrates, in great detail and with tremendous discernment, how [our] self-absorption has served as a prophylactic against understanding." -- National Post
    "Criticism of the press for its foreign coverage is hardly novel, but in this unrelenting, uncompromising book, Moeller manages to cast a fresh, unwavering eye on the problem...That Moeller's suggestions probably will not be acted upon should not diminish the accomplishment of this impressive book." -- Columbia Journalism Review
    "Her exhaustive analysis of coverage is a great accomplishment, as is her own retelling of these events. She helps us understand how the media shape our view of the world--and thus shape future events." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
    "With careful scholarship and nuanced argument, Moeller presents the image of media that have simply stopped doing their job." -- Kirkus Reviews
    "This is a very important book. Criticism of the American press--broadcast and print--for its foreign coverage is hardly new but Professor Moeller does a masterful job of exposing the causes and the result of this failure. Her work should open the public's eyes, and, indeed, those of the press itself, to the danger to our democracy if remedy is not forthcoming." -- Walter Cronkite
    "The challenging premise of this well-written book will be of interest to both students and consumers of the media." -- Library Journal
    "[A] penetrating analysis of an aspect of current media superficiality..." -- Booklist
    "Compassion Fatigue excels in its careful dissection of the institutional, philosophical, and logistical obstacles that prevent the media from effectively monitoring this planet." -- Charlotte Observer
    "A fascinating exploration of how crisis reporting impacts public opinion and how this affects future coverage." -- William Small, former president of NBC News and United Press International, professor emeritus at Fordham University
    "Compassion Fatigue is a calm but unflinching look at some of the most desperate stories on the planet. Susan Moeller has engaged the press in exactly the right terms: formulaic performance, sentimentality, missing context, not fighting hard enough to do a story. When these charges are backed up fairly (as they are in Compassion Fatigue) the press will listen. Eventually." -- Thomas C. Leonard, Assoc. Dean, Graduate School of Journalism University of California, Berkeley
    "For graduate, research, and professional collections." -- Choice
    "Compassion Fatigue demystifies the editorial formulas which lead to homogenized, Americanized and unconscionably-thin international news coverage. In this important work, Susan Moeller holds American news moguls, editors, journalists and their audiences accountable for failing to overcome public apathy and to assume the unprofitable responsibility to accurately report and measure the human significance of epidemic, assassination, massacre and famine." -- Scott Armstrong, former Washington Post reporter and co-author with Bob Woodward of The Brethren, Inside the Supreme Court