Regulating The Public’s Right to be Holistically Informed: The News Media’s Reportage of the 2014 Ebola Epidemic,

Presenter: Mary-Jean Nleya


The paper explores the western news media’s reaction, response and coverage of the 2014 Ebola pandemic that particularly hit the three West African countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea. The paper examines and comparatively analyses four western (Anglo-Saxon) international news sources and three non-western international news sources, with the aim of examining the western news media’s narratives that permeated the coverage of the 2014 Ebola epidemic. The author of the paper questions and critiques the decontextualized reporting that some of the news media undertook as it related to the representation of the affected states. To conclude, the author of the paper contends that the reportage of the 2014 Ebola epidemic reveals a gap in regulating the transfer of information, particularly as it relates to media laws. The author of the paper ultimately concludes that the traditional nature of media protection by international instruments (Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948) falls short of protecting the public’s right to know and be holistically informed by the news media on matters of public concern.


Mary-Jean is a freelance writer and was most recently the Senior Editor for the Harvard Africa Policy Journal. In 2016, she was awarded the Excellence in Media Award by the African Media Initiative, for the African Union Agenda 2063 reporting category. She is currently a visiting researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford. Her research interests include: the role of the media in economic development, feminist legal theory, legal philosophy, human rights, international trade law and policy, economic development and financial inclusion. Previously, Mary-Jean was an intern, and later a contractor, at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. Mary-Jean holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a LL.B. (cum laude) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.