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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


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
0131 651 5592
Research Interests
Media, Global justice, Humanitarian intervention, Norms, organizations and institutions, Rights, digital publics and counterpublics, Technology and society, Human rights, , Cyberspace as political space, Sociology of Knowledge, Cultural Sociology, Humanitarian Technology, Communication theories, Media and society, Protest

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • By appointment B.05, 21 George Square.


PhD, Media and Communications (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

PGCHE, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (University of Roehampton)

MA, Postcolonial Studies (University of Sussex)

MA, English Literature (University of Edinburgh)


My work sits at the intersection of digital media and activism, particularly in so far as this helps to re/shape relations between the Global North and the Global South. This interest has been shaped by my previous professional experience as an award-winning journalist on Scottish, British and international news programmes, including at BBC World Service Radio, where I worked on the Arab/Africa desk.

I have published on the mediation of humanitarian, human rights and disability campaigns, including the growing involvement of Non-Governmental Organisations in multimedia news production. I've also published on  the production, content and reception of international news more broadly, including the roles played by freelancers, social media participants and multinational businesses.

This has involved analysing media constructions of “Africa” by European and American journalists, but I am currently working on Arabic and Chinese news organisations as well. As part of this work, I have become very interested in the  moral and political economies of different news organisations, including the effects of funding by philanthropic trusts and foundations.  

I am a Co-Investigator for an AHRC project funded on Humanitarian Journalism (, and am a member of the  university's Digital Scholarship Network ( ). I was the Media Fellow on an ESRC project about Non-Governmental Public Action at the LSE’s Centre for Civil Society, and the Visiting Scholar at the NODE Centre for Research into News and Opinion in the Digital Era at Karlstad University in Sweden.

Previously, I acted as a media consultant for Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, as well as training the press officers of small NGOs to work with national and international journalists, under the auspices of the Media Trust. I have also worked as a theatre producer and international film festival organiser in Edinburgh and have a longstanding interest in the use of the arts as a progressive force. 


(In preparation) Humanitarian Journalism: Money, Power and Practice (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott).

(In print) Who's Reporting Africa Now? Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists and Multimedia.  London, New York: Peter Lang.


(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) Foundation-funded journalism, philanthrocapitalism and tainted donors. Journalism Studies. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) ONLINE FIRST: pp.1-21. OPEN ACCESS

(2017) "Our newsroom in the cloud": Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practiceNew Media and Society. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) ONLINE FIRST: pp.1-19. OPEN ACCESS

(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)  pp: 163-184. OPEN ACCESS

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

(2015). "These grey areas": Freelancers and the blurring of INGOs and news organisations. Journalism Studies 17 (8) pp.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) pp.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) pp. 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) pp.284-302

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


(Forthcoming, 2019) 'Humanitarian journalism'. In L. Chouliaraki and A. Vestergaard (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. London: Routledge (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce)

(Forthcoming, 2019) 'NGOs as news organizations'.  In H. Ornebring and H. Wasserman (Eds.) Oxford Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press

(In print, May 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) 


(In preparation) Conclusion. In M. Dwyer and T. Moloney (Eds.) Social Media and Politics in Africa: Democracy, Security, and Surveillance. London: Zed 

(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) "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.

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'm particularly interested in the production, funding and reception of journalism, but I also have expertise in political communications and strategic communications, non-governmental work and mediated activism. I am happy to work with applicants to identify co-supervisor in other subject areas. This may include colleagues working in international politics, 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