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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Kate Wright

Kate Wright
Dr Kate Wright
Chancellor's Fellow in the Cultural and Creative Industries
B.05 21 George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 5592 / Twitter @newsprof1
Research Interests
Media, Journalism, International news, Humanitarianism, Human rights, Peace and conflict, Communication theories, NGOs, State-media relations, soft power, public diplomacy

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • By appointment B.05, 21 George Square.

I am the Academic Lead of the interdisciplinary research cluster in Media and Communications at the University of Edinburgh.  I study  the practices and political economies of international news and mediated advocacy,  particularly humanitarian and human rights campaigning.

I am currently working on a collaborative research project, in partnership with the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to establish the influence of different kinds of media on the decision-making of major donor governments. This arose from a global research project, funded by the AHRC, on Humanitarian JournalismIn the course of this work, I studied major state-funded international broadcasters and wire agencies (Al Jazeera English, BBC World Service, CGTN, Voice of America, Agence France Presse and Xinhua), as well as specialist outlets funded by private foundations (Humanosphere, India Blooms, IRIN, Nuba Reports and PANAPress).

I have also published extensively on the growing involvement of NGOs in the production of international news, focusing on the coverage of Africa. As a result of this work, I have developed expertise in the  politics of visual imagery, multimodal media analysis, and freelancing. My collaborative research has won awards for academic excellence from the International Communication Association (4,000 members) and for outstanding impact on policy and practice. Recommendations from my research have been adopted by staff at UN agencies, NGOs and the Charity Communications Network.

The link to my ORCID account is here:


Before moving to Edinburgh, I was a Senior Lecturer in Journalism and News Media at the University of Roehampton.  I also served as the Media Fellow on an ESRC project about Non-Governmental Public Action, based at the London School of Economics. I’ve had the honour of being a Visiting Scholar at one of the top centres for  interdisciplinary media research in Europe: the  'NODE Centre for Research into News and Opinion in the Digital Era',  based at Karlstad University in Sweden.

My research interests have been shaped by my experience as an award-winning BBC journalist working on Scottish, British and international news flagships, which included reporting on a number of wars, disasters, and terrorist attacks.  Prior to becoming a journalist, I  worked in theatre, film and festival management, and have a longstanding interest in the use of the arts as a progressive force. 

PhD students: 

Dilek Genc (Leverhulme funded) ‘The Blockchain’ in Humanitarianism: Accountability, Trust, and the Private Sector in a Changing Humanitarian Landscape. 

Xin Mei. 'E-Health in the construction of doctor-patient relationships in China'.

Carmen Thompson (AHRC funded). 'Real Life Recorded: Women and Documentary Film in Kenya'.


(2018) Who's Reporting Africa Now? Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists and Multimedia.  London, New York: Peter Lang. Reviewed by Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism and LSE's Centre for Africa.


(Due 2019) Review of The Fixers: Local News Workers' Perspectives on International Reporting by Lindsay Palmer. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism.

(Due 2021) The politics of humanitarian journalism. In L. Chouliaraki and A. Vestergaard (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. London: Routledge (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce)


(2019) Research trajectories in African digital spheres. In M. Dwyer and T. Molony (Eds.) Social Media and Politics in Africa. (Co-authored with Bruce Mutsvairo). London: Zed Books

(2019) Humanitarian journalism.  In H. Ornebring and H. Wasserman (Eds.) Oxford  Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press  (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce). 

(2019) NGOs as news organizations In H. Ornebring and H. Wasserman (Eds.) Oxford  Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

(2019) Foundation funding and the boundaries of journalism. Journalism Studies (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce) ONLINE FIRST: pp.1-19 OPEN ACCESS 

(2019) Foundation-funded journalism, philanthrocapitalism and tainted donors. Journalism Studies. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) 20(5): 675-695. OPEN ACCESS.

(2018). "Helping our beneficiaries tell their own stories?"  International aid agencies and the politics of voice in news production. Global Media and Communication 14(1): pp. 85-102

(2018) Doing good and looking good in global humanitarian reporting: Is philanthrojournalism good news? (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce). In F. Enghel and J. Noske-Turner (Eds.) Communication in International Development: Doing Good or Looking Good? London: Routledge (Rethinking Development series) 

(2018) "Our newsroom in the cloud": Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practiceNew Media and Society. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) 20(9): 3381-3399.  OPEN ACCESS.

(2018) Review of Television production in the UK: From cottage industry to big business, by David Lee. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 19(8) ONLINE FIRST.

(2017) Donor power and the news: The influence of foundation funding on international public service journalism. International Journal of Press/ Politics (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce) 22 (2): 163-184. OPEN ACCESS .

(2017). Public-commercial hybridity at BBC News Online: Covering non-governmental organisations in Africa. In A. Davis (Ed.) The Death of Public  Knowledge? How Free Markets Destroy the General Intellect. London: Goldsmiths/MIT Press

(2016). Moral economies: Interrogating the interactions of NGOs, journalists and freelancers. International Journal of Communication 10:1510-1529. OPEN ACCESS

(2016) "It was a simple, positive story of African self-help" (manufactured for a Kenyan NGO by advertising multinationals). In M. Bunce, S.Franks and C.Paterson (Eds.) Africa's Media Image in the Twenty-First Century: from the 'Heart of Darkness' to 'Africa Rising'. London: Routledge.

(2015). "These grey areas": Freelancers and the blurring of INGOs and news organisations. Journalism Studies 17(8):989-1009

(2014)  Should journalists be 'virtuous'? Mainstream news production, complex media organisations, and the work of Nick Couldry. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 15(3):364-381

(2012) Educating rookies: Might guided problem-based learning help first year journalism students learn to inter-relate theory and practice? Journalism Education 1(2):8-25. OPEN ACCESS 

(2012) Listening to suffering: What does 'proper distance' have to do with radio news? Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, 13(3): 284-302

(2011) Reality without scare quotes: Developing the case for Critical Realism in journalism research. Journalism Studies, 12(2):156-171


(2019) Podcast on NGO journalism about Africa with Dickens Olewe, 26 February.

(2019) Who's reporting Africa now? Invited blog for Africa is a Country, 18 February. 

(2018) How ready are journalists to cover the big humanitarian stories? Invited Op. Ed. for the International Broadcasting Trust, 25 October.

(2018) The State of Humanitarian Journalism (2018). Industry report.  Norwich: University of East Anglia (Co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce) 

(2018) Foundation Support for International Non-Profit News: Mapping the Funding Landscape. Industry Report. Norwich: University of East Anglia (Co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce).

(2018) NGOs and JournalismA Q and A with Carolina Are. The  Humanitarian News Research Network, 27 June. 

Topics interested in supervising

My remit is interdisciplinary, so I can act as a co-supervisor for PhD students working in many different disciplines, not just the subjects listed here. I welcome applications from doctoral candidates interested in studying all aspects of the media. I am happy to work with applicants to identify co-supervisors in other subject areas. This may include colleagues working in politics and international relations, international development, digital sociology, digital media design, digital media, documentary-making, peace-building and religion. Students are welcome to contact me to discuss this if they wish.

If you are interested in being supervised by Kate Wright, please see the links below for more information:

PhD In African Studies; PhD in Politics; PhD in Sociology; PhD in International Development