The Mediation of Suffering
and the Vision of a
Cosmopolitan Public

by Lilie Chouliaraki (London School of Economics)

In this article, the author argues that if researchers wish to move toward a “global village”
with cosmopolitan values, then they need to examine critically the discourses and practices
by which global information flows invite the individual spectator to be a public actor
in the contexts of her or his everyday life. In the light of empirical analysis, the author
presents a hierarchical typology of news stories on distant suffering that consists of
adventure, emergency, and ecstatic news, and she examines the two broad ethical norms
that inform these types of news: communitarianism and cosmopolitanism. The possi-
bility for cosmopolitanism, the author concludes, lies importantly (but not exclusively)
in the ways in which television tells the stories of suffering, inviting audiences to care
for and act on conditions of human existence that go beyond their own communities of