The Humanitarian Journalism project is seeking to better understand how the news media report on humanitarian crises and what shapes their coverage.


This project is primarily a collaboration between Dr Mel Bunce (City, University of London), Dr Martin Scott (University of East Anglia) and Dr Kate Wright (Edinburgh University). All three researchers have published numerous academic and non-academic outputs about journalism and international affairs. More details about each researcher can be found below.

Dr Mel Bunce

MelanieBunceDr Mel Bunce is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at City, University of London and the founding director of the Humanitarian News Research Network. Her research focuses on the global news system and the money, politics, technology and news values that shape international reporting. She has done extensive fieldwork studying foreign correspondents in East and West Africa, and is the co-editor of the book, Africa’s Media Image in the 21st Century (Routledge 2016).


Dr Martin Scott

MARTIN SCOTTDr Martin Scott is a Senior Lecturer in Media and International Development in the School of International Development (DEV). He is author of Media and Development (Zed Books, 2014) and has written academic articles and book chapters on humanitarian news, foundation-funded journalism, representations of Africa, celebrities and development, audiences for international news and the role of popular culture in politics.


Dr Kate Wright

s200_kate_wrightDr Kate Wright is the Academic Lead of the Media and Communications Research Cluster at the University of Edinburgh, and is based in Politics and International Relations. She’s published extensively on representations of suffering, audiences’ responses to them, and aid agencies’ involvement in news production. Her latest monograph is Who’s Reporting Now? Journalists, Non-Governmental Organisations and Multimedia (Peter Lang, 2018). Recommendations from her research have been adopted by UN agencies and major international NGOs. Prior to joining academia, Dr Wright was an award-winning BBC journalist, working on Scottish, British and international news flagship programmes, including an extended period on the Arab/Africa desk at BBC World Service.


How we work

We are a happy, productive and long-lasting co-authoring team who have made equal contributions to this global research project, and who collaborate closely on every output we produce. Our work has been funded by multiple sources including: AHRC (our major funder), ISRF, Santander, HEIF, and various other funds in our respective universities. We have all acted as the PI in at least one of these grants.

We have also taken turns as the lead author on our academic publications. When we are the lead author, we tend to do the bulk of the data analysis, developing the argument and writing. However, our underlying research design and our data collection is collaborative. Our theoretical ideas and writing are also interrogated and refined as a team, with co-authors sometimes acting as proof-readers, and sometimes making more substantive changes to structure or argumentation.

This approach to co-authoring relies on our strong commitment to the principles of equality, respect and kindness (see below). We welcome collaboration with other researchers and industry partners who are also committed to these principles. We are also committed to supporting each others’ careers by always sharing invitations and public credit with each other. We ask that anyone approaching us about our work be mindful of this.

Equality statement

We are committed to principles of equality, respect and kindness in our research. We are deeply troubled by the well-documented gender bias in academia, which hampers every aspect of women’s careers including funding, citation, student evaluation, tenure, promotion and academic esteem. We are particularly concerned by studies which show that women receive far less recognition and reward for collaboratively-produced publications than their male colleagues. Collaborating with a man seems to trigger an even more severe ‘co-author penalty’ for women, as others tend to assume that papers will reflect a man’s work more than the contributions made by his female colleagues.

We are also aware of research on the ‘prestige economy’ in academia, which shows that women find it much harder to access the invitations, introductions and working opportunities which are the ‘currency’ of academic advancement. Whilst some weight should be given to women’s own (heavily socialised) discomfort with pushing themselves forward, far more needs to be done given the taken-for-granted rituals of male networking and sociality, which systematically marginalise and disadvantage women. For these reasons, we are committed to supporting each others’ careers by always sharing invitations and public credit with each other, as well as gently correcting harmful gendered assumptions whenever we encounter them. We ask that anyone approaching us about our work be mindful of this.

We would also like to refute any assumptions that team members may have made unequal contributions because of the nature of their academic titles, disciplines, institutional affiliations or industry experience. Finally, we acknowledge that equality is an intersectional matter. For example, one of our team members is disabled, and two have significant caring responsibilities. So we work in ways which accommodate these different needs. We ask that anyone working with us tries to do likewise. We believe wholeheartedly that it is possible to remain decent people, and indeed firm friends, as well as productive researchers.


The three main researchers have published numerous academic and non-academic outputs about journalism and international affairs. Below is a list of their most relevant publications.



Bunce, M. Franks, S. and C. Paterson. (eds.). (2016) Africa’s Media Image in the Twenty-first Century: from the ‘Heart of Darkness’ to ‘Africa Rising’. London: Routledge.

Scott, M. (2014) Media and Development. Zed Books.

Wright, K. (2017) Who’s Reporting Africa Now? Journalists, Non-Governmental Organisations and Multimedia. Peter Lang.

Academic journal articles

Bunce, Mel (2016) Beyond clickbait and commerce: The ethics, possibilities and challenges of not-for-profit media A Special Issue of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics Vol.13 No.2/3 Edited by Denis Muller Judith Townend.

Bunce, Mel (2016) “Africa in the Click Stream: Readership data and the production of international news stories” African Journalism Studies 36:4.

Bunce, Mel (2011) “The new foreign correspondent at work: Local-national ‘stringers’ and the global news coverage of Darfur” Reuters Reports, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University. *Article won the Ngo Future of Work Prize, Oxford University.

Bunce, Mel (2010) “ ‘This Place Used to be a White British Boys’ Club’: Reporting Dynamics and Cultural Clash at an International News Bureau in Nairobi” The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs Vol. 99: Issue. 410, pp. 515 – 528.

Scott, M. Bunce, M. and Wright, K. (In review) Donor power in the news: The influence of foundation funding on international public service journalism. Journal of Press/Politics.

Scott, M. (2015) The Myth of Representations of Africa: A Comprehensive Scoping Review of the Literature. Journalism Studies. Online First.

Scott, M. (2015) Distant Suffering Online: The Unfortunate Irony of Cyber-Utopian Narratives. The International Communication Gazette. Online First.

Scott, M (2014) The Role of Celebrities in Mediating Distant Others. International Journal of Cultural Studies. Online First.

Scott, M. (2014) The Mediation of Distant Suffering: An Empirical Contribution Beyond Television News Texts. Media, Culture and Society. 36:1, 3-19.

Scott, M. (2009) Marginalised, Negative or Trivial? Coverage of Africa in the UK Press. Media, Culture and Society, 31:4. 533–557.

Wright, K. (In Print.) "Helping our beneficiaries tell their own stories?" International aid agencies and the politics of voice within news production. Global Media and Communication

Wright, K. (2016). Moral Economies: Interrogating the Interactions of NGOs, Journalists and Freelancers. International Journal of Communication, 10, p.20.

Wright, K. (2015) ‘These grey areas’: freelancers and the ‘blurring’ of INGOs and news organisations’. Journalism Studies.

Wright, K. (2014) ‘Should journalists be ‘virtuous?’ Mainstream news production, complex media organisations and the work of Nick Couldry’, Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 15 (3) pp.364-381.

Wright, K. (2012) ‘Listening to suffering: what does ‘proper distance’ have to do with radio news?’ Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 13 (3) pp.284-302.

Wright, K. (2011) Reality without scare quotes: Developing the case for critical realism in journalism research." Journalism Studies 12, (2) pp.156-171.

Book chapters

Bunce, Mel (2016, forthcoming) “Africa Rising” in M. Bunce, S. Franks, & C. Paterson (eds.) Africa’s Media image in the 21st Century: From the ‘Heart of Darkness’ to ‘Africa Rising’ Routledge: London.

Bunce, Mel (2015) “Africa’s media image: new storytellers, new narratives?” in Julie Gallagher (ed.) Images of Africa: creation, negotiation and subversion. Manchester University Press: Manchester.

Scott, M. (2016) How not to write about writing about Africa. In M. Bunce, S. Franks and C. Paterson (eds.) Africa’s Media Image in the 21st Century.

Scott, M. (2014) Encountering Distant Others? Reconsidering the Appearance of International Coverage for the Study of Mediated Cosmopolitanism. In Y. Aybige and R. Trandafoiu (eds.) Media and Cosmopolitanism. Peter Lang.

Scott, M. (2013) More News is Bad News: Expanding the Scope of Studies of ‘the Public Faces of Development’ and ‘Media and Morality’. In D. Lewis, D. Rodgers & M. Woolcock (eds.) Popular Representations of Development: Insights from Novels, Films, Television and Social Media. Routledge.

Wright, K. (In print). 'Public-Commercial Hybridity at BBC News Online: Covering Non-Governmental Organisations in Africa'. (Ed.) A. Davis. The Death of Public Knowledge?  London: Goldsmiths/MIT Press

Wright, K. (2016) ’It was a ‘simple’, ‘positive’ story of African self-help (manufactured by a Kenyan NGO by advertising multinationals’. (Eds.). M. Bunce, S. Franks, C. Paterson. Africa’s Media Image in the Twenty-first Century: from the ‘Heart of Darkness’ to ‘Africa Rising’. London: Routledge.

Reports / Other publications

Bunce, Mel & Chatterjee, Elizabeth (2010) “Narrating Democracy in the Commonwealth: An Overview” Commissioned report for: Democracy and the Commonwealth: a Round Table Centenary Celebration.

Magee, H. and Scott, M. (2016) Small Screen, Big World: How UK Television portrated the wider world in January 2016. IBT

Magee, H. and Scott, M. (2015) Reflecting a Changing World? How UK Television portrayed the wider world in 2014-15. IBT

Scott, M. (2011) Outside the Box: UK Television Coverage of Developing Countries, ‘Impact’ and Social and Online Media. IBT.

Scott, M. (2009) Guidelines for Broadcasters on Encouraging Media and Information Literacy and User-Generated Content. UNESCO / CBA.

Scott, M. (2009) The World in Focus: How UK Audiences Connect with the Wider World and the International Content of News in 2009 CBA / IBT.

Scott, M. (2008) Media Literacy from the Perspective of Broadcasters and User-Generated Content Producers Around the World. UNESCO / CBA.

Scott, M. (2008) Screening the World: How the UK Portrayed the Wider World in 2007-8. IBT, DFID.



So much fun, and great discussion with the @RSJnow and @CityUniLondon students who took part. Special shout out to student leaders Olivia and @aishahxashraf. Looking forward to more collaborations in the future @meljbunce

Ryerson FCAD@RyersonFCAD

Misinformation/Disinformation, What can journalists do?
1st-year @RSJnow students joined int’l journalism peers from @CityUniLondon in a 1 hour global dialogue to discuss news distribution, sourcing & more.

Special thank you to @NicoleBlanchett, @aishahxashraf and @SKamran33!

Online book launch 🖥️📖

Security as Politics: Beyond the State of Exception
By @AndrewWNeal of @EdinburghPIR

This Friday 5 March, 4pm - 6pm.

Join us! ➡️

@EdinburghUP @ceseredinburgh