Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Caroline Williamson Sinalo
Narrating African conflict news: An intercultural analysis of Burundiís 2015 coup
Optional Fields
This article adopts an intercultural narrative approach to investigate how the 2015 crisis in Burundi was represented in five online news outlets: The Guardian, the United Kingdom (English); Le Monde, France (French); Le Soir, Belgium (French); The Daily Nation, Kenya (English); and Le Renouveau, Burundi (French). As the analysis demonstrates, all the outlets, including the African ones, adopt essentialised clichťs of barbaric perpetrators and innocent victims, embroiled in ethnic conflict. Various configurations of these elements of the story are identified as it travels from one context to another. In general, the international outlets focus on a brutal dictator and a passive, victimised mass, but this narrative is reversed in the government-run Burundian outlet, which assigns barbarism to the protestors and legitimacy to the president. The Daily Nation is unique in framing these elements within a broader international narrative, demonstrating Burundiís relative vulnerability to international (neoimperial) actors. In the final discussion, the article considers how Western journalism can learn from this cross-cultural analysis, drawing on Venutiís (1995) concepts of foreignisation and domestication. It is argued that The Daily Nationís emphasis on neoimperial influence on Burundi may be a form of domestication to Kenyan readers but would undoubtedly be considered a foreignising strategy to Western European readers, as it would alert them to the injustices of supposedly legitimate international (Western) institutions. While recognising the challenges of such a strategy in journalism, it is argued that news outlets should nonetheless consider presenting African conflict news using less stereotyped narratives, informed by a postcolonial interpretative lens.
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