On Feb. 3, the U.N. officially declared Somalia’s famine over, providing a moment for reflection on coverage of the East African/Somali drought. This week a J-Source post asked: Is African famine too boring to cover? It’s not the first time this issue has been raised. It’s a complex story, one Brian Stewart calls “global mismanagement of the first order.” Added to this is danger for both foreign and local journalists. Aid agencies themselves were slow to react, according to this report.  Highly predictable and unfolding slowly, drought and famine generally reach crisis proportions before reaching our front pages. Canada has a relatively good journalistic record, but more novel and dramatic events – the Arab Spring, the Japan earthquake – tend to draw resources. The new Travers Fellowship is one support that may help journalists stake out under-resourced but significant international stories.


Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.