1st Edition

Developing News Global journalism and the coverage of "Third World" development

By Jairo Lugo-Ocando, An Nguyen Copyright 2017
    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Developing News sets out to describe how development is articulated in the news and used by newspeople as an analytical category to explain the world. It is about examining development as a discourse that is based on the harmful contrast between the developed and the developing (or the underdeveloped) and that sets the boundaries for what is permissible to say.

    Jairo Lugo-Ocando and An Nguyen begin by discussing the news coverage of development that emerged as a news category for newspapers and broadcasters after World War II. They move on to examine the way development has been reported by the mainstream media, exploring the rationales and ideologies that determined and continue to define the way the media think about and represent development in the news. In doing so, the authors contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between the news agenda, news sources and the development policies that are set in the centres of power.

    This book is ideal for those studying and researching and studying issues to do with journalism and the "Third World". It may also be relevant for those students taking courses in global or international journalism, media and democracy, development studies or international politics. Above all, it is an invitation for journalists to rethink their own practice in representing international development and its component.


    List of figures


    Introduction: The elusive, shape-shifting nature of development in the news

    What is development, anyway?

    The critical examination of development news

    Thematic organization

    Chapter 1: The "tokenization" of development in the news

    Making poverty newsworthy

    The focus on events and disasters

    Dramatic storylines: goodies versus baddies

    The "celebritisation" of poverty

    The cult of economics

    An exact science?

    "Kicking the ladder"

    Dominance of Western worldviews

    Authoritative power to speak

    Practical challenges in newsgathering

    Any hope for change?

    Chapter 2: Journalistic conventions and the geopolitics of development narratives

    Geopolitics in news articulation

    Pack mentality and journalistic conventions

    Development news as geopolitical propaganda

    From colonial rhetoric to Truman’s development categories

    Cold War discourses

    Concluding notes

    Chapter 3: The "number game" in development news

    Naïve empiricism

    "Numbers rule the world"

    One dollar per day to out of poverty?

    The Holy Grail of GDP

    Concluding notes

    Chapter 4: Communicating containment and the Alliance for Progress

    Ideological and practical factors

    Alliance for Progress as a propagandist narrative

    The "equal partnership" discourse

    Mediatised development

    Lessons from the Alliance

    Chapter 5: News coverage of foreign aid: a case study of the Millennium Village Project in African, US and UK media

    Background to the chapter: the many problems of news coverage of foreign aid

    The case of the Millennium Villages Project

    Background on the MVP

    About this study

    African Press Coverage of the villages

    US/UK coverage of the MVP

    Early stages: ideologies and personalities as news

    Second phase: critical voices from the blogosphere

    Third phase: The Idealist

    Constraints on media reporting



    Chapter 6: Disempowering news: the feminization of development

    The feminisation of poverty

    "Empowering" women – for less gender justice?

    Gendered news practices

    Chapter 7: New technologies for old ideas

    An ICT-driven new economy

    Technology as geopolitics

    Technology as colonial legitimisation

    Technology without politics?

    Chapter 8: Malthusianism and news framing of population growth

    Shifting the blame

    Legitimising racism

    Malthusianism returns as the Bell Curve

    Towards a better news articulation of population issues

    Conclusion: Beyond the North-to-South lecture: can the news media ever get to the core of development?

    Us-versus-them propaganda

    What is being ‘sold’

    What is being missed

    Where to from here?




    Jairo Lugo-Ocando is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Before becoming an academic he worked as a correspondent and news editor for several media outlets in Latin America and the US.

    An Nguyen an Associate Professor of Journalism in the School of Journalism, English and Communication at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. A former Vietnamese journalist and an Australian-educated scholar, he has published widely in several areas, including digital news consumption and citizenship, public engagement with science news, and news and socio-political changes in a globalising world.


    'Developing News isn’t just another study of "development" but a thorough, briskly written and radically new take on what Western media have retained from decades of change in the "Third World" and reported them to Western readers. Read this book to learn how the public’s interpretation of the global South has been shaped, mis-shaped and riddled with ideology. Then lend it to your favourite, or least-favourite, journalist. '

    --Susan George, President of the Transnational Institute

    ‘At last, a comprehensive and historically-informed discourse on development by two scholars from the global South: Lugo-Ocando and Nguyen provide a powerful critique of development news and news about development. Highly recommended.'

    - Daya Thussu, Professor of International Communication, University of Westminster, London