New Internationalist

The return of the poster child

Issue 383

The use of emotive images, particularly of children in distress, to raise funds has long been a contentious issue. They ignore the context and exploit the subject. The children appear as passive and helpless – and, by extension, so do the societies in which they live. Gut reactions replace explanations of causes and consequences. But these images also increase the response from donors. A decade ago they were used with restraint. They have begun to appear again, most recently around the threat of famine in Niger. Here are some examples, taken from newspapers and websites in July and August. The question is why we still respond to them.

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