In the Horn of Africa, 12 million people are facing a hunger crisis and nearly a half million children are at risk of dying from malnutrition and disease, but the crisis has attracted less than 0.2 percent of U.S. news coverage so far in 2011, according to a Pew Research Center report.
On July 20, the United Nations officially declared famine in two regions of Somalia -- the first officially declared famine since 1985 and the first significant food crisis in three years.
But the famine has received very little attention in the U.S. mainstream media, many of which have sharply reduced their foreign coverage partly due to slashed budgets, particularly for foreign news. In July and August the food crisis had accounted for just 0.7 percent of the news hole. Year-to-date the crisis registers at just 0.2 percent.
The sparse coverage in the U.S. highlights a trend in declining media attention to Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the Horn of Africa as well as other regions.
The ethnic conflict in Sudan, for example, and the succession of South Sudan from the north has accounted for just 0.1 percent of the news hole this year, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism’s News Coverage Index. The civil war in the Ivory Coast and the arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo accounted for just 0.1 percent this year.