Media scholars have recently shown a growing interest in theorizing the western spectatorship of mediated distant suffering. At the same time, not many studies in this field have put their empirical focus on audiences rather than on representation. In this article, we show how theoretical concepts and empirical findings from the field of moral psychology can inform on-going discussions about the witnessing of mediated distant suffering. To this end, we review three themes in the relationship between spectator and sufferer: distance, actuality, and scale. This theoretical intervention aims to provide a renewed impulse to media studies, and to contribute to the development of a future research agenda for studying audiences of mediated suffering.

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The International Communication Gazette
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

von Engelhardt, J. (2015). Studying western audiences vis-à-vis mediated distant suffering. A call to venture beyond media studies. The International Communication Gazette, 77(7), 695–707. doi:10.1177/1748048515601561