Letter: Shock fatigue

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GEORGE ALAGIAH ('A Necessary Intrusion', 23 August) touches on the ethical dilemma faced by journalists reporting famine, but the presentation of the article shows a lack of understanding about the long-term consequences of portraying the victims of disaster using images such as the destitute mother cradling an emaciated child.

Although aid agencies depend upon the media for publicity, many recognise that continual recourse to this type of 'shock-tactic' only undermines their efforts to prevent such tragedies. Resorting to gruesome stereotypes prevents people understanding the economic, political and historical backgrounds to such events.

Oliver Mathieson