Backstories / Black Stories: Black Journalists, INGOs and the Racial Politics of Representing Sub-Saharan Africa in Mainstream UK News Media

Douglas, Omega. 2019. Backstories / Black Stories: Black Journalists, INGOs and the Racial Politics of Representing Sub-Saharan Africa in Mainstream UK News Media. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Academic concern with representations of sub-Saharan Africa in Western news media is intensifying. In particular, there is burgeoning interest in how INGOs and black journalists, within and outside the African diaspora, influence the narration of Africa in international news. The positionalities of both actors in the field of reporting on sub-Saharan Africa has far-reaching implications for whether historically rooted, racist Western understandings of the region may be subverted. Yet questions of race exist on the margins of scholarship in this area. Unlike most current research on coverage of Africa, this study inserts issues of race and racism into debate. It is distinctive by linking critical race and postcolonial theories to Bourdieu’s (2005) ‘journalistic field’.

Through in-depth interviews with journalists of colour and INGO press officers who work for some of Britain’s largest news and aid organisations, the concept of postcolonial journalistic field theory (PCJFT) is developed. This new interdisciplinary framework, alongside the development of notions such as quadruple consciousness, schizophrenic inclusion and life-in-death, importantly adds to theories of representation, black (British) identity, journalism, race and cultural production studies, by showing how methods and critiques that are part of critical race and postcolonial theories, enable theoretically grounded accounts of how and why mediated racial discourses occur.

PCJFT shows that a contextual study is essential to understanding the racial politics that this research found informs the production and representation of news on sub-Saharan Africa in UK media, by accounting for the complex relations between journalists’ experiences and ‘standpoints’ (Hill Collins, 1998, 2000), institutional culture and the power of news media and INGO sources. As such, this study reveals a historicised, racialised, capitalist, moralising discourse exists in relation to mainstream UK news on black African Others, and proposes a phenomenological approach to race within journalism as a vital means of dismantling such discourse.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Black journalists, INGOs, NGOs, Representation, Sub-Saharan Africa Western news media, black (British) identity, journalism studies, critical race theory, cultural production studies, postcolonial theory, journalistic field theory, African diaspora, international news, racism, development, aid, racial politics, standpoint theory, phenomenology, racial discourse, foreign reporting, media-NGO relations, news sources, life-in-death, Ebola, postcolonial journalistic field theory, Foucauldian discourse analysis, outsider-within, black privilege, Western gaze, protectionist journalism, double consciousness, quadruple consciousness, socialised disassociation, diversity, inclusion, blackness, market rationality, mitigating difference, normative framing, cosmopolitanism, ethics, slacktivism, development journalism, colonial discourse, decolonial, interdisciplinary methods & methodologies, marginalised groups, Others, Othering, the Other, intersectionality, racialisation, Africa, political economy of news, necropolitics, whiteness, inequality, agency, UK media, social justice, pan-Africanism, Bourdieu, Fanon, Du Bois, Hall, Hill Collins, Said, Mbembe, Foucault, white saviour, humanitarianism, black and minority ethnic, BAME, public sphere, journalist-source relations, news culture, hegemony, racial stereotypes, race, cultural capital, magnified delirium, habitus, doxa, schizophrenic inclusion, ethical and economic rationalities, global media, racial capital, Global South, Northern news, black lives, erasure of locals, subjectivity, historicised, racialised, capitalist, moralising discourse, ‘us’ and ‘them’, discrimination.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 March 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 May 2019 09:31

Last Modified:

18 Nov 2022 16:16


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