On Wednesday, May 7, author Suzanne Franks joined with the Pulitzer Center to focus on how journalists report on disasters around the globe. Part of her interest is in looking back: in 1984, the reporting of a ‘biblical famine’ in East Africa, combined with the pop star glamour of Live Aid, confirmed a predominance of TV news and changed the dynamics of the aid business forever. For Franks, it defined a generation’s view of Africa and had a long term influence on the nexus of global politics, celebrity and the media.
Franks is the author of «Reporting Disasters: Famine, Aid, Politics and the Media» (2013) and a former BBC Television journalist who worked on programs such as Newsnight and Panorama. When she left the BBC in the 1990s, she founded an independent production company for the creation of political and current affairs programs, including several films about Africa. Franks eventually moved to the University of Westminster and subsequently completed a PhD in 2007 on foreign reporting and the Ethiopian famine. In 2012 she was appointed to a chair in journalism at City University London. She leads the university’s undergraduate program, including teaching a course on Humanitarian Communication, while also supervising PhD students and contributing to research on journalism.