Reporting Humanitarian Disasters in a Social Media Age: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reporting Humanitarian Disasters in a Social Media Age

1st Edition

By Glenda Cooper


252 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138483576
pub: 2018-10-22
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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.


'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

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Distant Suffering in a Digital World: the background to the changing nature of disaster reporting
  3. "The odd mucky weekend, not a one night stand" The relationship between aid agencies and journalists when covering disasters
  4. The ‘first draft of history’ or just ‘smoke and mirrors’? How journalists and aid agencies see the use of UGC in humanitarian crises
  5. Twitter Takeovers, Blogging and ‘Following the Sun’: how aid agencies use the tropes of social media and UGC
  6. Cloning and Co-opting: How the mainstream media use UGC
  7. ‘Tweeting the Quake’: how ordinary citizens tell their story
  8. Ethical Questions Going Forward: Payment, Permission, Privacy
  9. Conclusion
  10. Appendix of Interviewees

About the Originator


About the Series

Routledge Research in Journalism

This series is our home for innovative research in journalism. It includes monographs and edited collections that provide insight into a field that faces the challenges of an ever-evolving news and media environment.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies