Flooded with press releases and official statements, reporters from the mainstream media tend not to dig too deep into promises made by governments in international meetings such as the G-8 summit in Italy, which ended July 11.

Pushed by the necessity to broadcast and file news stories as quickly as possible, journalists may just place an unjustified emphasis on figures released by press officers or mentioned by heads of state in their speeches, especially when it comes to aid and development commitments.

Media emphasized details such as final declarations signed between leaders of developing nations and the world's major industrialized powers, a closing day entirely focused on Africa, and even visits paid by leaders' wives to the earthquake-stricken area of summit host L'Aquila after their stay in Rome.

But some development organizations noted that while the world's industrialized countries keep falling short of their own goals in terms of aid commitments, public attention is diverted to new promises.

"If the media can find ten minutes in a newscast to rehash the details of a pop star's funeral, they should be able to find 90 seconds to report that three million people are dying needlessly while the richest countries in the world duck their commitments," Robert Fox, Oxfam Canada's executive director, wrote in a blog.

Indeed, almost no effort was made by the media to go beyond public statements on aid commitments coming out of the G-8.

According to Fox, "the devil is in the details and reporters need to dig to find out if there's any substance behind the rhetoric," and distinguish if an aid commitment is new money or simply a recycled pledge.

About the author

  • Tiziana Cauli

    Tiziana has contributed to Devex News since mid-2008, focusing mainly on Africa as well as the European donor landscape, especially those in Brussels, Rome and Barcelona. Tiziana has worked as a journalist for Reuters and the Associated Press in Johannesburg and at Reuters in Milan and Paris. She is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.