Development assistance and independent journalism in Africa and Latin America: a cross-national and multidisciplinary research network


This project is creating an international and interdisciplinary research network to explore the relationship between international development aid and local journalistic practice and training in Africa and Latin America. The principal investigator is Dr Chris Paterson and the co-investigator is Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando. Running between November 2016 and November 2018, the project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Department for International Development (DFID), and is a project of the Global Challenges Research Fund. 

Since 1945, global power relations and geopolitics of foreign aid have substantially been directed at disseminating a model of journalism practice and education aligned with the interests of donor nations. This new research network has allowed researchers to examine these power dynamics in the African and Latin American context, and considered the extent to which the diffusion of a US/UK based model of journalism practice has been central to the ‘modernisation’ project in international development. This network project is linked to journalism practice, journalism education, and critical journalism studies in the context of the impact that foreign aid/development assistance has had in Africa and Latin America. Researchers have also explored how this has affected the ability of these developing regions to foster a critical and independent media sector. The project has also contributed to building a reflective dialogue between media practitioners, aid donors and journalism educators around the relationship between journalism and aid. 

During this period, Leeds-based researchers and colleagues from Ghana, South Africa, Chile and Brazil have been able to host three focussed seminars – in the UK, Colombia, and Ghana – as well as smaller events. The first major publication from the project is a Special Issue of African Journalism Studies (39-2) titled Aid and Journalism in Africa, edited by Chris Paterson, Audrey Gadzekpo (Ghana), and Herman Wasserman (South Africa).