Portrait of Keith Somerville

Keith Somerville

Honorary Professor


Keith Somerville was appointed honorary professor at the Centre for Journalism in April 2016 and teaches the Communications and Humanitarianism and Propaganda - Media, Manipulation and Persuasion modules. He has taught at the Centre for five years and before that taught in the School of Politics and International Relations. A writer and lecturer on African affairs, the history and uses of propaganda, the politics and media coverage of conservation and the global media, he founded and runs the Africa, News and Analysis website. His recent books, Africa’s Long Road Since Independence. The Many Histories of a Continent (January 2016 – Penguin paperback published January 2017) and, Ivory. Power and Poaching in Africa (published at the end of 2016). Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred was published in 2012. He has recently published studies of human-lion conflict as reflected in media coverage of the Cecil the Lion Affair, radio propaganda in South Africa under apartheid and the framing of conflict during the Cold War. His next book, Humans and Lions: Conflict, Conservation and Coexistence, will be published by Routledge in mid-2019. He is a member of the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent, a Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group. and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London.  His book on Ivory won the Marjan-Marsh Conservation Award in 2016. He is now working on studies of the depiction of wildlife and conservation in TV documentaries (along with Amy Dickman and Paul Johnson of WildCRU at the University of Oxford) and on the application of ideas of Just War to conservation and anti-poaching strategies. 

A career journalist with the BBC World Service and BBC News for three decades before entering the academic world, Keith was a producer and radio documentary maker and then a news programme editor with the World Service. He has an established track record as a trainer and training designer for the BBC, initially with BBC World Service training and latterly with the recently-established BBC College of Journalism, where he was part of an award-winning team that produced online legal training and scenario-based journalism training tools. His knowledge of journalism theory and practice is based on three decades of reporting for, producing, presenting and editing World Service news programmes.

The major world events he has covered include running the World Service team in South Africa for the first post-apartheid elections in 1994; presenting live coverage of the attempted coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; overseeing the first 10 hours of World Service coverage of the death of Princess Diana; running of live World Service radio coverage on 9/11; and producing and presenting radio documentaries from South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and the wilds of deepest Cardiff and Norfolk.

Research interests

The major areas of research are spread across areas of propaganda, the media coverage of Africa and of conservation and the political and economic aspects of the conservation .and the wildlife trade. Keith is working on a study of radio propaganda during the apartheid period in South Africa, both the government domestic and external radio output through SABC and Radio RSA and the ANC’s radio Freedom. Another area of study being currently pursued is the media coverage of human-lion conflict, prompted by the press and broadcast feeding frenzy over the shooting of Cecil the Lion – there are serious issues to be examined about the way media reporting and representations of conservation issues affect public opinion and conservation/environmental policy.


Keith teaches the Communications and Humanitarianism, and the Propaganda – Media, Manipulation and Persuasion modules at the Centre for Journalism.

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