The CNN Effect and Humanitarian Crisis

Authored by: Piers Robinson

The Routledge Companion To Media and Humanitarian Action

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138688575
eBook ISBN: 9781315538129
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Debates during the 1990s over the CNN effect have been closely associated with its role in instigating humanitarian responses. While many claimed that interventions during humanitarian crises were being influenced by media reporting of suffering people, early research indicated that influence was more conditional and dependent upon factors such as policy uncertainty and the political risks and costs associated with the intervention. Scholars have also pointed out that media influenced humanitarianism has frequently been superficial and not always positive. Since 9/11, the emergence of the “war on terror” has seen humanitarianism exploited in order to justify invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the co-optation of humanitarian organizations as part of winning “hearts and minds.” Even though new communication technologies appear to offer the potential for more effective humanitarian responses, the overall space for genuine humanitarian action would appear to have shrunk by the use of it for manipulative organized persuasive communication (propaganda) purposes in the context of the “war on terror” and the aggressive pursuit of perceived Western interests.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.