Lessening the Construction of Otherness: A slow ethics of journalism

Helene Maree Thomas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Foreign reporting plays a significant role in shining a light on stories of conflict and hardship that would potentially remain untold, but a reoccurring problem in this practice, particularly when the reportage is about non-Western countries, is the construction of otherness. In the case of Africa, Western reportage has perpetuated particular ideas about racial difference. According to Stuart Hall, this “racialized regime of representation” persisted into the late twentieth century, and while racial stereotypes have been and always are being contested, there is extensive evidence that points to a particular rhetoric when writing about Africa. Focusing on this issue of representation, as well as the role of the individual media practitioner in telling the stories of distant Others, this paper examines the extent to which a methodology involving deeper engagement may provide an effective strategy for subverting negative and dehumanising representations. Specifically, it examines a set of principles for the practice of slow journalism derived from an action research project carried out by the author in Rwanda from 2012 to 2014. The results demonstrate how by taking the time to engage and collaborate with local communities, a richer, more nuanced, and ultimately more culturally responsive form of journalism is possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-491
Number of pages16
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016


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