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Africa’s Deadliest Conflict

Media Coverage of the Humanitarian Disaster in the Congo and the United Nations Response, 1997–2008

Walter C.Soderlund, E. DonaldBriggs, Tom PierreNajem, Blake C.Roberts

Publication Year: 2013

Africa’s Deadliest Conflict deals with the complex intersection of the legacy of post-colonial history—a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions—and changing norms of international intervention associated with the idea of human security and the responsibility to protect (R2P). It attempts to explain why, despite a softening of norms related to the sanctity of state sovereignty, the international community dealt so ineffectively with a brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which between 1997 and 2011 claimed an estimated 5.5 million. In particular, the book focuses on the role of mass media in creating a will to intervene, a role considered by many to be the key to prodding a reluctant international community to action.

Included in the book are a primer on Congolese history, a review of United Nations peacekeeping missions in the Congo, and a detailed examination of both US television news and New York Times coverage of the Congo from 1997 through 2008. Separate conclusions are offered with respect to peacekeeping in the Age of R2P and on the role of mass media in both promoting and inhibiting robust international responses to large-scale humanitarian crises.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v-v

List of Tables and Maps

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Africa’s Deadliest Conflict is the third in a series of books coming out of the Department of Political Science at the University of Windsor that deal with the complex intersection of humanitarian crisis and the role played by mass media in prodding the international community toward some form of meaningful action. The first of these, Humanitarian Crises and ...

The Authors

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xv-xix

In early December 2010, as we were researching the final sections of this book, our local newspaper, The Windsor Star, ran a long editorial on the Congo entitled “The Congo’s Plight: A Tragedy without End.” In that editorial a Congolese clergyman was quoted as saying that “populations in the east of the country remain subject to a regime of growing terror ...

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1. The Congo: Understanding the Conflict

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pp. 1-18

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) borders Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and the newly minted Republic of South Sudan to the east, Zambia and Angola to the south, the Central African Republic to the north, and the Republic of the Congo to the west; it is currently the third-largest country on the continent. In that it shares borders with ...

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2. The UN Response: From ONUC to MONUSCO

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pp. 19-39

The UN has been deeply involved in Congolese affairs for most of that country’s fifty years of independence. In truth, it has been one of the many parties involved in the shifting kaleidoscope of internal, regional, and international conflicts that has been the defining characteristic of Congolese life. Conversely, the Congo has provided, and is continuing to ...

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3. Mass Media, Public Awareness, and Television News Coverage of the Congo

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pp. 41-63

Over the past half-century, the role of the mass media in political processes, both domestic and international, has been the focus of increasing academic attention. Theories regarding media influence have ranged from the robust “hypodermic needle” analogy (Lasswell, 1938), to the more conservative concept of “limited effects” (Klapper, 1960; Chaffee ...

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4. New York Times Framing of the Second Congo War

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pp. 65-90

According to Todd Gitlin, a critical function of mass media is “to certify reality as reality” (1980: 2). In its role as a domestic and international agenda setter, it is arguable that no newspaper is better positioned to carry out this role than the New York Times. In the process of media construction of reality, the initial “pictures in our heads” that we acquire ...

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5. New York Times Framing of the Third Congo War

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pp. 91-120

In spite of the apparent end of regional participation in the Congo’s war, New York Times reporting did not begin in the new year of 2003 with the same level of optimism that was seen toward the end of 2002. The reality sank in early that despite the various peace agreements signed over the previous six months, and even though the major regional combatants ...

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6. Media Coverage of the Congo Wars: An Overall Assessment

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pp. 121-140

Before we begin our overall evaluation of US media coverage of the Congo it is important to reiterate that agenda-setting theory maintains that media effects are not immediate. Elizabeth Perse tells us that “agenda setting is not an effect that occurs after a single exposure to the news. Instead, salience emerges in the public’s mind because of consistent ...

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7. Peacekeeping in the Age of R2P

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pp. 141-157

As its subtitle indicates, this book addresses two major issues: media coverage of the Congo wars (dealt with in chapters 3 through 6 and to be addressed further in the Conclusion) and the UN response to these conflicts (reviewed in chapter 2). In this chapter we will expand on this second point to determine directions for the future of UN peacekeeping. As a ...

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Conclusion: The Impact of Mass Media on “The Will to Intervene”

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pp. 159-164

According to the so-called “CNN effect,” what appears in the media, and especially on television, has a major, if not determining effect in getting governments to respond to faraway humanitarian disasters. A good deal of effort has gone into trying to assess the validity of this theory. Most assessments of the deterministic claims for the CNN effect have ranged ...

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Postscript: An Update on Events

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pp. 165-169

By the end of January 2009, the “Nkunda problem” had been addressed. Nkunda’s military and political downfall came in a series of rapid developments. First, on January 12, Lydia Polgreen reported a split between General Nkunda and his chief of staff, Jean Bosco Ntaganda. While Nkunda dismissed the seriousness of the defection, Polgreen claimed ...

Appendix: Descriptive Language

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pp. 171-178


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pp. 179-194


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pp. 195-225


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pp. 227-237

E-ISBN-13: 9781554588787
E-ISBN-10: 1554588782
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554588350

Page Count: 258
Illustrations: 16 tables, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013