17 March 2009

Even more to remember

Even more to remember and think about. I think that's the pseudo-description I would give the past 12 hours. The day began, like most Tuesdays, much earlier than I wanted it to. Why a Journalism class can't just meet by videofeed is beyond me. That would be amazing. Just stay in bed, turn on my laptop, and participate online. Sounds like "new media" to me.

I'm only half joking.

Our guest speaker today was Peter Eichstaedt, author of First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resisance Army. He's been working as a freelance reporter for many years, and currently works for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in The Hague, Netherlands. Obviously, he has spent a lot of time in Africa.

What struck me once again was the underlying theme of most journalists admitting that not enough reporting is done in the world. "Everyone knows about Darfur," Eichstaedt said at one time, just before stating that no one really knows about the fighting going on in Northern Uganda. While that is true, I would also like to point out that until a year or two ago, no one I knew had any idea that Darfur was experiencing genocide. I hope this doesn't mean that it's only a matter of time before people know about it and produce a long-reaching outcry.

Only after I knew what to look for, did I find anything. This, while seeming to be an obvious statement, shows how little information there is about the subject. CNN.com has current stories listed for Darfur, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. BBC.com mentions Madagascar, Darfur, Gambia, Nigeria, Uganda...Perhaps the most amusing thing is that on cnn.com right now, the most popular story to view is "Actress Richardson Hurt Skiiing." Or is that not funny at all? I'm sorry, my news judgment seems to be fading.

Maybe I'm just biased. I should give the American press another chance to prove itself. Perhaps it's the economy. CNN and ABC can't afford anymore to send good reporters to the middle of nowhere. Those poor companies, they probably don't even have enough to give out bonuses!

I am, however, heartened by the attention Africa is getting since the pope is in town. Not everyone may agree on his views on lifting the ban on condoms in Africa, but the way I see it, the more attention African countries get from nations who are not themselves enduring genocide and child soldiers, the better.

Here's an idea: All those bonuses? Let's send them to African children. Pay for health care, education, clean water and healthy food. Get the countries devastated by the innappropriately-drawn boundaries of colonization back on their feet.

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