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"Helping our beneficiaries tell their own stories?" International aid agencies and the politics of voice within news production

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-102
JournalGlobal Media and Communication
Issue number1
Early online date2 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


International aid agencies often claim to give the poor and disenfranchised a voice by helping them tell their stories to others located far away. But how do aid-workers conceptualise and operationalise a politics of voice in their production of media for mainstream news? What struggles does it shape within news production processes and what are the effects of this?

This article explores two contrasting production case studies which took place in South Sudan and Mali, involving Save the Children, Christian Aid and their local partners. It finds that different approaches to giving voice exist in aid work, create serious tensions within and between agencies. In addition, commercialised notions of value for money, the influence of mediated donor reporting, and aid-workers’ weak understandings of linguistic and intercultural interpretation combined to make aid agencies’ values-in-action far less empowering than they assumed.

    Research areas

  • politics, NGO, aid, interpretation, Africa, voice, child soldier

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