School of Social and Political Science

Kate Wright

Job Title

Senior Lecturer and Chancellor's Fellow in Media and Communication; School Director PGT

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21 George Square

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I am the Academic Lead of the interdisciplinary research cluster in Media and Communications at the University of Edinburgh.  I study the political economies and practices of humanitarian communication and international news, so am interested in different models of funding (e.g. foundation funding, state-funded media), as well as the involvement of non-traditional actors in news production (e.g. NGOs, UN agencies).

I am currently working on three international research projects. I'm Principal Investigator on a project analysing the relationship of the international news network, Voice of America, to the US government, which involves interrogating recent attempts to erode the 'firewall' between the two. I'm also Principal Investigator on 'Beyond Humanitarian Emergencies', which is funded by the Centre for Data, Culture and Society. This has used computational methods to construct the world's first global corpus of humanitarian news, with the aim of interrogating the different meanings associated with the term 'humanitarian'  around the world, over the past decade. 

Finally, I am a Co-Investigator on a third collaborative project on bureaucratic mediatisation, which involves establishing the nature and extent of media influence within governmental decision-making about the allocation of humanitarian aid. This last project is being conducted with the co-operation of UN-OCHA, and builds on a  global research project, funded by the AHRC and ISRF, into the practices and political economies of Humanitarian Journalism.

Previously, I published extensively on the growing involvement of NGOs in the production of international news, focusing on the coverage of Africa.


Before moving to Edinburgh, I was a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Roehampton. My research interests have been shaped by my experience as an award-winning BBC journalist working on Scottish, British and international news flagships, which included reporting on a number of wars, disasters, and terrorist attacks.  Prior to becoming a journalist, I  worked in theatre, film and festival management. The link to my ORCID account is here:


(2018) Who's Reporting Africa Now? Non-Governmental Organizations, Journalists and Multimedia.  London, New York: Peter Lang. Reviewed by Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, the International Journal of Communication and LSE's Centre for Africa.

Peer-reviewed publications

(2021) The politics of humanitarian journalism. In L. Chouliaraki and A. Vestergaard (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. London: Routledge (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce)

(2020) Soft power, hard news: How journalists at state-funded transnational media legitimize their work. International Journal of Press/Politics 25 (4): 607-631. OPEN ACCESS.

(2019) Commentary on Special Issue. Data Journalism Beyond Majority World Countries: Challenges and OpportunitiesDigital Journalism 7(9): 1295-1302 (co-authored with Rodrigo Zamith and Saba Bebawi)

(2019) Research trajectories in African digital spheres. In M. Dwyer and T. Molony (Eds.) Social Media and Politics in Africa. (Co-authored with Bruce Mutsvairo). London: Zed Books

(2019) Humanitarian journalism.  In H. Ornebring and H. Wasserman (Eds.) Oxford  Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press  (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce). 

(2019) NGOs as news organizations In H. Ornebring and H. Wasserman (Eds.) Oxford  Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

(2019) Foundation funding and the boundaries of journalism. Journalism Studies (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce) 20(14): 2034-2052. OPEN ACCESS 

(2019) Foundation-funded journalism, philanthrocapitalism and tainted donors. Journalism Studies. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) 20(5): 675-695. OPEN ACCESS.

(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) 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) 

(2018) "Our newsroom in the cloud": Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practiceNew Media and Society. (co-authored with Mel Bunce and Martin Scott) 20(9): 3381-3399.  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): 163-184. OPEN ACCESS .

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

(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.

(2015). "These grey areas": Freelancers and the blurring of INGOs and news organisations. Journalism Studies 17(8):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):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):8-25. OPEN ACCESS 

(2011) Listening to suffering: What does 'proper distance' have to do with radio news? Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, 13(3): 284-302

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



(2019) Review of The Fixers: Local News Workers' Perspectives on International Reporting by Lindsay Palmer. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 20(10) ONLINE FIRST

(2018) Review of Television production in the UK: From cottage industry to big business, by David Lee. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 19(8) ONLINE FIRST.

Public scholarship

(2020)  'How Journalists at State-Funded Transnational Media Legitimize Their Work'. An interview with Carolina Are. The  Humanitarian News Research Network, 29 June. 

(2020) Voice of America: struggle for independence highlights issue of state role in government-backed media. Op. Ed. The Conversation, 25 June 

(2019) Why did Epstein fund non-profit media?  Blog, 23 August. 

(2019) Podcast on NGO journalism about Africa with Dickens Olewe, 26 February.

(2019) Who's reporting Africa now? Invited blog for Africa is a Country, 18 February. 

(2018) How ready are journalists to cover the big humanitarian stories? Invited Op. Ed. for the International Broadcasting Trust, 25 October.

(2018) The State of Humanitarian Journalism (2018). Industry report.  Norwich: University of East Anglia (Co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce) 


(2018) Foundation Support for International Non-Profit News: Mapping the Funding Landscape. Industry Report. Norwich: University of East Anglia (Co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce).

(2018) NGOs and JournalismA Q and A with Carolina Are. The  Humanitarian News Research Network, 27 June. 

Research interests

Research interests

Media, journalism, International news, Humanitarianism, Human rights, Peace and conflict, Communication theories, NGOs, State-media relations, Soft power, Public diplomacy

Research esteem

My coauthors and I won the Wolfgang Donsbach Award for the Most Outstanding Article, awarded by the International Communication Association (ICA) in 2020, and the top faculty paper in the ICA's Journalism Studies division in 2019. My monograph was nominated for the best book award in the International Communication division of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 2018.

I sit on the editorial board of Digital Journalism, and on the international advisory board for a new Palgrave series on journalism in the Global South. I have also been a Visiting Scholar at the 'NODE Centre for Research into News and Opinion in the Digital Era' at Karlstad University (Sweden), and a Media Fellow on an ESRC project about Non-Governmental Public Action at the London School of Economics. Recommendations from my research have been adopted UN agencies, NGOs and the Charity Communications Network.

PhD students

Carmen Thompson (AHRC funded). 'Real Life Recorded: Women and Documentary Film in Kenya'.

Aybuke Atalay. 'The Digital Logic of Political Survival in Hybrid Regimes: Bots and Computational Propaganda in the Turkish Twittersphere.'

Ruolan Gan. 'China's Approach to the Responsibility to Protect.'

Ricardo Ribeiro Ferreira. From Media Capture to News Organisations as Political Agents: Understanding the Roles of Journalism in De-Democratisation Processes within Brazil.'

Topics interested in supervising

Please note that I do not currently have the capacity to take on any new PhD students at the current time, as my complement of doctoral students is full. Usually, I am able to supervise doctoral candidates studying media and communications. However, Edinburgh does not currently offer a PhD in Media and Communications. Instead, my remit is interdisciplinary, so I can act as a co-supervisor for PhD students who are interested in media and communications, but are based in different disciplines.

If you are interested in being supervised by Kate Wright, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:

Staff Hours and Guidance

Appointments are available in term-time only for all students, except PhD candidates.