Fall 2004

Africa: Stories to Be Told

Africa is portrayed in the Western media by its extremes, observes Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo, a managing editor with the Nation Media Group in Nairobi, Kenya. Stories about its civil wars, human rights abuses, government corruption, disease and poverty abound, but these have been joined by Western reporting that, in Onyango-Obbo’s opinion, can be too willing to celebrate the promised reforms of emergent leaders for whom greater journalistic scrutiny should be applied. The result: “… the leadership in Africa became not only complacent, but also used the flattering international coverage to muzzle internal critics and vigorous independent reporting ….”

Journalist’s Trade
Africa: Stories to Be Told
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Seeking Balance in a Continent Portrayed By Its Extremes (1 comment)
‘The patronizing reporting one witnesses today is as bad as the condescending work of the past.’
By Charles Onyango-Obbo
Africa Web Coverage
By Charles Onyango-Obbo
Trapped in a Time-Warped Narrative
A BBC foreign correspondent pleads with journalists to move past their relentless focus on Africa’s misery.
By Fergal Keane
When Reporting a Story Turns Into Running From a Riot
When Reporting a Story ‘This is the thing about covering places like the Congo—things can be incredibly unpredictable.’
By Jason Beaubien
African Radio Reporters’ Tool Kit
By Jason Beaubien
Weighing the Moral Argument Against the Way Things Work
‘We have covered Africa this year, so we won’t be doing anything for a while.’
Photo Essay By Marcus Bleasdale
The Numbers Game in African Reporting
Statistics don’t matter when disease and disaster exact such high human tolls in Africa.
By John Donnelly
Revealing Lives Behind the Statistics
‘We would work to capture and convey the human dignity not often found in stories painting statistical portraits.’
By Davan Maharaj
Journalists and Humanitarian NGO’s
In our ‘symbiotic’ relationship, aid workers become sources, gatekeepers or eye openers.
By Hilaire Avril
War Crimes Tribunals in Africa and Sleeping Press Watchdogs
‘… there is an obvious need for independent press scrutiny to hold these tribunals accountable.’
By Thierry Cruvellier
Photographing a Nation Under Siege
In Liberia, a photojournalist finds death, despair and destruction.
By Carolyn Cole
Journalism at a Crossroads in Liberia
War devastated the nation’s independent media, and now the job of restoring the foundation for news reporting begins.
By Gabriel I.H. Williams
When Being a Photojournalist Is About Surviving
‘Journalists could never be sure they would be alive to cover the next assignment.’
By Gregory H. Stemn
Africa Through the Eyes of African Reporters (1 comment)
If local journalists reported more of the news to Western audiences, their sources and the story’s context would be different.
By Geoffrey Nyarota
No Easy Life for Journalists in Africa (2 comments)
Working for an independent press is an act of extreme courage in many of the continent’s countries.
By Shyaka Kanuma
When African Governments Stifle Press Freedom
In many countries in southern Africa, journalists face harsh consequences when they try to hold governments accountable.
By Luckson A. Chipare
Transforming Journalism as Democracy Emerges
‘Ten years into democracy, many journalists are struggling to redefine their relationship to government.’
By Pippa Green
Managing Media in Times of Crisis
Edited excerpts from a speech by Gwen Lister
Priorities in the Struggle for Press Freedom
By Gwen Lister
Lessons in Managing Independent Media
By Gwen Lister
The Government Silenced Zimbabwe’s Only Independent Newspaper
‘Revealing the facts about their corruption and mismanagement really makes bad rulers mad.’
By Yvonne van der Heijden
International Network of Cities of Asylum
By Yvonne van der Heijden
Using the Internet to Examine Patterns of Foreign Coverage
African events are often not reported because Western news coverage is strongly connected to a nation’s wealth.
By Ethan Zuckerman
African Stories In Need of Reporters
Compiled by Sarah Hagedorn
Emotional Connections to African Reporting
Zambia’s orphaned children portray many dimensions of the human toll of AIDS.
By Frank Green
A Mid-Sized Newspaper Connects Its Readers to Africa (1 comment)
Times Union journalists traveled to Malawi to trace the links of local citizens to the people of sub-Saharan Africa.
By Rex Smith
Hope in a Can of Green Beans
Short story by Paul Grondahl
When Tragedy Is No Longer a Good Enough Story to Tell
An African journalist chronicles his life and revisits some of Africa’s major news stories of the 1990’s.
By Wilson Wanene
Curator's Corner
Transparency Benefits the Practice of Journalism
‘The Nieman Watchdog Project … is grounded in the belief that probing questions are essential to informed reporting.’
By Bob Giles
Words & Reflections: War and Terror
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
When Fighting is Glimpsed From a Different Perspective
In setting out to better understand the roots of the Iraqi resistance, a journalist learns how controlling the press can affect the course of events.
By Patrick Graham
Proposing a Variation on Embedded Reporting
Switching from the battlefield to inside a military hospital, we would ‘explore the physical and psychological aftermath of war.’
By Anne Hull
Documenting the Experiences of Military Families
‘… as I set out to tell this story, I soon discovered that the voices of military children were all but invisible.’
By Barbara Walsh
‘Homeland’
A journalist reveals America in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
By Dale Maharidge
CBS Lets the Pentagon Taint Its News Process
In acquiescing to government requests for two broadcast delays, CBS News erred.
By Stephen J. Berry
‘Infoganda’ in Uniform
The Bush administration creates media outlets to tell its story.
By Charles Zewe
Documentaries Raise Questions Journalists Should Ask Themselves
‘Have they delved deeply enough into issues surrounding the nation’s war on terror and its homeland security?’
By Rose Economou
Protesting Doonesbury’s Dismissal
‘What is practiced these days is not censorship with a U.S. government stamp.’
By Bob Davis
Words & Reflections: Secrecy
The Steady March of Government Secrecy
Journalists strategize to gain access to information the public has a right to know.
By Pete Weitzel
Journalists Act to Combat Government Secrecy
By Pete Weitzel
The Associated Press Responds to Increased Government Secrecy
Excerpt from a Lecture By Tom Curley
Using Public Records Laws to Expose Government Misdeeds (2 comments)
For one journalist, it took 20 years, lots of research, and several court decisions to uncover the FBI’s abuses of power and secrecy on a campus during the cold war.
By Seth Rosenfeld
When FOIA Requests Become a Reporting Habit
At the York Daily Record/Sunday News, reporters don’t hesitate to push agencies for undisclosed information.
By Rob Walters
Tips About FOIA Filings
By Rob Walters
York Daily Record/Sunday News Stories Based on FOIA Requests
By Rob Walters
International Journalism: Foreign Correspondence
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Foreign Correspondence: Evolution, Not Extinction
‘The new correspondents are reshaping foreign news in ways that have potential for good and, without interventions, for bad.’
By John Maxwell Hamilton and Eric Jenner
Caught Between the Cold War and the Internet
How foreign news will be covered is a question—with a few possible answers.
By Fons Tuinstra
China and the Internet: A Reader Responds
By Fons Tuinstra
International Journalism: Reporting on North Korea
Blogging North Korea (1 comment)
The Web provides a good opportunity for ‘niche’ audiences to find more international news.
By Rebecca MacKinnon
Focusing on Human Rights
With survivors telling their stories, U.S. News & World Report describes life inside North Korea’s gulag.
By Thomas Omestad
Taking Photographs in North Korea
‘You are not allowed to photograph people. You are not allowed to go anywhere without a guide.’
By Dermot Tatlow
The Hidden Stories of North Korea (2 comments)
Relying on defectors, experts and occasional glimpses, a reporter tries to provide information and insights about this closed society.
By Barbara Demick
Nieman Notes
Partnering With Young People
A program to improve child health engages teenagers interested in journalism.
By Jerome Aumente
Using a Camera to Shoot the Big Five
A retired journalist refocuses to connect with ‘the slower heartbeat of the African bush.’
By Hennie van Deventer