1st Edition

Reporting Humanitarian Disasters in a Social Media Age

By Glenda Cooper Copyright 2019
    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    260 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    From the tsunami to Hurricane Sandy, the Nepal earthquake to Syrian refugees—defining images and accounts of humanitarian crises are now often created, not by journalists but by ordinary citizens using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. But how has the use of this content—and the way it is spread by social media—altered the rituals around disaster reporting, the close, if not symbiotic, relationship between journalists and aid agencies, and the kind of crises that are covered? Drawing on more than 100 in-depth interviews with journalists and aid agency press officers, participant observations at the Guardian, BBC and Save the Children UK, as well as the ordinary people who created the words and pictures that framed these disasters, this book reveals how humanitarian disasters are covered in the 21st century – and the potential consequences for those who posted a tweet, a video or photo, without ever realising how far it would go.

    1. Introduction: Telling the Stories of Disasters in a Rapidly Changing World 2. Distant Suffering in a Digital World: background to the changing nature of disaster reporting 3. ‘The odd mucky weekend – not a one night stand’. How journalists and aid agencies work together in disasters 4. ‘The First Draft of History’ or ‘Smoke and Mirrors’? How journalists and aid agencies see UGC 5.  Twitter takeovers and Following the Sun: How aid agencies now use UGC  6. Cloning and Co-opting: Journalists and control of UGC 7. ‘Tweeting the Quake’ How ordinary citizens tell their stories 8. Ethical Questions Going Forward: Privacy, Permission, Payment 9. Conclusion: Final Reflections


    Dr Glenda Cooper is a lecturer in journalism at City, University of London. Her research centres on humanitarian disasters, the relationship between aid agencies and journalists and the ethical issues surrounding use of user-generated content. She is the co-editor of Humanitarianism, Communications and Change (Peter Lang, 2015), and editor of The Future of Humanitarian Reporting  (City University, 2014). Before that, she was the Guardian Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and a staff journalist at the BBC, Independent, Daily Mail, Washington Post, Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph.

    'What is often been theorized upon and dealt with in highly hypothetical ways, has finally met its empirical match. Drawing on an impressive amount of interviews with journalists, aid agency press officers but especially with ordinary citizens posting on social media, Dr. Glenda Cooper offers an insightful and detailed inquiry into the role of UGC and forms of citizen journalism in reporting on international humanitarian disasters. The book asks compelling and topical questions about privacy, ethics and journalistic practices in this new digital age of social media.' -Stijn Joye, Ghent University, Belgium