School of Social and Political Science

Dr Kate Wright

Job Title

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

Kate Wright's photo

Room number


Street (Address)

21 George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


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. ICA has a membership of 4,500. My monograph was nominated for the best book award in the International Communication division of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 2018 (membership: 6, 500). 

I sit on the editorial boards of:  Digital Journalism (ranked 2/458 in SJR list of Communications journals) and The International Journal of Press/Politics (ranked 4/458 in SJR list of Communications journals). 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. 

PhD students

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.'

Nurul Iman Muhamad Dimyati. 'Developing Big Data Journalism in Malaysian Newsrooms'.


Topics interested in supervising

I encourage applications from doctoral candidates studying media and communications, especially if these relate to my areas of expertise. 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 a number of different disciplines.

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


I founded and am now the Academic Lead for the 50-strong interdisciplinary research cluster in Media and Communications at the University of Edinburgh. This forms part of the Centre for Data, Culture and Society. I am also PGT Director for the School of Social and Political Science.

My research spans three areas, all of which relate to journalism, with a particular emphasis on the reporting of humanitarian affairs. The first research area focuses on how different political economies shape international news production. My work in this area currently focuses on state-funded international news organisations, and I am PI of an international project analysing the relationship of the international news network, Voice of America to the US government. This involves using semi-structured interviews and the analysis of an archive of internal documents to interrogate recent attempts to erode the statutory 'firewall' between the two. Previously, I have researched the roles played by private foundations and NGOs in shaping other forms of international reporting.

Secondly, I am interested in how different kinds of international news shape international relations between countries and transnational institutions. I am also PI on another international project called  'Beyond Humanitarian Emergencies', which is funded by the Centre for Data, Culture and Society. This uses computational methods in combination with CDA to analyse the world's first global corpus of humanitarian news, with particular attention to the diplomatic roles of such news in the output of media organisations funded by non-democratic countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Finally, I am interested in how domestic and international news shape political decision-making. This currently involves developing the impact of a 16 country study about the ways in which media shapes governments' allocation of humanitarian aid. This has involved advising the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN's Development Programme, the UN's World Food Programme, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Norwegian Refugee Council. This research project has also been covered by the Columbia Journalism Review (Columbia Uni), Nieman Lab (Harvard Uni), the American Press Institute, NPR, and The New Humanitarian


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, UK and international news flagships. This 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:


(2022) Humanitarian Journalists: Covering Crises from a Boundary Zone. London: Routledge (Co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce).

(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 influence of news coverage on humanitarian aid: The bureaucrats’ perspective. Journalism Studies (co-authored with Martin Scott and Mel Bunce)

(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

(2023) Why so many humanitarian crises are 'forgotten' and 5 ideas to change that.  Op Ed. The New Humanitarian. Jan 16.

(2022)  New research shows how news coverage influences countries' emergency aid budgets. Nieman Lab, Harvard University, Jan 10.

(2021) How news coverage influences countries' emergency aid budgets- new research'. The Conversation. 14 Dec.

(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. 

Staff Hours and Guidance

Appointments are available in term-time only for all students, except PhD candidates. Please sign up for an appointment on the sign on my office door, which will be in place from Week 1 onwards. Please do not email for an appointment as I won't be able to see which slots are available if I am working from home, which risks double booking.