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Revisiting Africa

(GETTY)
Given the sudden amount of media attention directed at Darfur – due in some large part to George Clooney's star-powered push to distribute news about the long war-torn region, including an appearance at a protest yesterday on the National Mall – we decided it was as good a time as any to reprise a story from a few months ago that seems appropriate.

Back in October, I took a look at the overall amount of coverage that the African region gets among the major networks, which was, somewhat predictably, quite small. Andrew Tyndall reported at the time that from January through September of last year, sub-Saharan Africa received a total of 67 minutes of coverage on the evening newscasts, which represents 2% of overall foreign coverage among all three programs. And the catalyst for more extensive coverage is typically the result of a celebrity-driven campaign or a visit by a major U.S. official:

Looking at network news in general, much of the coverage of the region and its conflicts is often prompted only when a major U.S. administration official visits the region or, more often, when a celebrity calls attention to it. For example, all three networks covered Condoleezza Rice's July trip to the Sudan, although much of the content focused on a fracas in which reporters were roughed up by Sudanese officials. Don Cheadle's film, "Hotel Rwanda," which dealt with the genocide in that country, called attention to conflicts in the region on all three networks for several weeks. ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer's interview with Brad Pitt in Africa, the content of which focused primarily on Pitt's concerns about poverty there, was the subject of a "Primetime Live" full hour and two days of coverage on "Good Morning America."
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