Framing Chinese and U.S. Activity in Africa in Media

Chris Paterson and Toussaint Nothias, communication scholars at the University of Leeds in England, recently penned an article on the way global news media depict Chinese economic and American military involvement in Africa. Working through the lens of three online news outlets—Al Jazeera English, BBC and CNN—the authors analyze how news coverage and framing shapes public opinion of the two superpowers in Africa. The authors found that news coverage of China fell into one of three frames: partner, competitor or threat to democracy, and that 55% of articles framed Chinese involvement in “totalizing” terms, contributing to a “vilification” of Chinese activity on the continent. By contrast, news coverage of the U.S. referenced specific African countries in which the U.S. was “fighting terrorism, supporting opposition to undemocratic leaders, and contributing to restoring peace and capturing warlords,” generating more positive sentiment towards U.S. activity. The authors conclude that news media framing can both “reproduce disempowering stereotypes” about Africa and shape public opinions on U.S. and Chinese involvement on the continent. 

The full article is available here

Photo by U.S. Embassy the Hague | CC BY-ND 2.0

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