Media Interventions as Humanitarian Action

Authored by: Shawn Powers

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:


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This chapter outlines how information interventions—extensive external management, manipulation or seizure of information space in conflict or disaster zones—can be conceived of as humanitarian action. Building on the work of Metzl (1997) and Price and Thompson (2002), I highlight the various ways in which state and intergovernmental actors intervene in foreign environments in times of conflict and crisis to introduce information technologies, institutions and content for the purpose of providing humanitarian and emergency relief. While media interventions are often studied through the lens of propaganda, I argue that these strategic communication campaigns can have significant humanitarian import, and impact, while also serving a collective, social good. Highlighting such programs will not only make the case of seeing media policy as a direct part of the humanitarian action tool-kit (as opposed to it being simply a variable in the broader humanitarian action equation), but also calls for an uncolored theoretical approach to studying state-led strategic communication campaigns.

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