Summer headlines were captured by the Layton funeral, the Norway killings, and an ongoing U.S. political circus. Meanwhile, an immense humanitarian disaster in Somalia lingered in the back pages. The Atlanta Post accuses North American media of ignoring the crisis.

By early August, the spreading famine finally began to capture the U.S. news cycle, and networks stepped up coverage.  In Toronto, Somali-Canadians rallied with chants of “Open your hearts! Open your wallets!” but donations remained low.  Canadian news interest flickered to life only when rapper K’naan visited Somalia in late August.

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Fair or not, pundits connect a weak international response to weak news coverage. On the other hand, critics say wall-to-wall famine coverage perpetuates negative stereotypes and donor fatigue. What’s clear is that news coverage of Africa has been stuck in a ‘crisis rut’ for a long time – and now even the crises no longer gain sustained attention. Where do we go from here?

(Photo: UNHCR)

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.