Research reifies that the routine coverage of the African continent in general and the Second Congo War (1992–2002) in particular in so-called Western mainstream news media is scarce and intermittent while lacking continuous representation (Hawkins 2004, Franks 2005). Even though journalism under-represented the Congo crisis, a decade later, narratives about DR Congo seem to increasingly reach the Western world through literature and cinema. Amongst the cultural oeuvres dealing with the atrocities in DR Congo, we find the autobiography “A long way from paradise” (2010) by Leah Chishugi and the documentary film “Blood in the Mobile” (2010) by Frank Poulsen. This paper discusses how these two cultural products were perceived in Finland, Denmark and the UK, and how compassion was constructed in the process of perception. The empirical material encompasses online discussion sites, top news media and a selection of journals. In current research the emotional engagement of journalists and audience-publics has often been discussed in the terms of compassion or lack of it (Sznaider 1998, Tester 2002, Höijer 2004, Chouliaraki 2006). Since this compassion fatigue-thesis (Moeller 1999), seems to occur as a truism, we join David Campbell (2012) and Keith Tester (2001) in their attempts to critically investigate the accuracy of the thesis.
Dr. Mari Maasilta is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki in the project “Structures of Compassion: Media, migration and the politics of emotion” (2010-2013). Maasilta is currently a Visiting Scholar in CAMRI, at the University of Westminster (September 2012-August 2013). A former Research Fellow in the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of Tampere, Maasilta obtained her PhD in Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Tampere in August 2007. Her research interests include diversity in media, transnational communication, development communication and African cinema. She has been teaching media and communication at the Universities of Tampere and Helsinki. Her latest international publication is “Commercial Television, Multicultural Drama and Migrant Audiences in Finland” in Elisabeth Eide & Kaarina Nikunen (Eds.) Media in Motion. Cultural Complexity and Migration in the Nordic Region. (Ashgate, 2011).