African Media Portrayals of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

Brooke Chambers, j. Siguru Wahutu


Much has been written about the media coverage of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. However, with few exceptions, much of this work has often focused on how the journalism fields from the global North framed the genocide, with little work on how African fields covered it. This article eschews the global North and investigates how African fields covered the genocide as it unfolded. We analyze 96 news articles from Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, along with 21 transcripts of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) coverage during the first month of the genocide. We find similar narratives about the violence between RTLM broadcasts and the 3 fields we focus on. For example, we find that in the period of intense violence, African journalists primarily framed Rwanda as a civil war and ethnic conflict and rarely used the genocide frame. This is counterintuitive when considering how many fields from the global North have been critiqued for not calling Rwanda a genocide early on. Our findings and conclusions hold implications for comparative media analysis and the normalization of hateful rhetoric.


genocide, journalism field, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, RTLM

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