10 January 2012

More Reporting Vs Better Reporting

Nick Kristof wrote last week:

Look, as a journalist, I’m proud of my profession. Yet it’s also clear that commercial pressures are driving some news organizations, television in particular, to drop the ball. Instead of covering Congo, it’s cheaper and easier to put a Democrat and a Republican in a studio and have them yell at each other. 
Frankly, it’s just humiliating when news organizations cover George Clooney (my travel buddy on one Darfur trip) more attentively when he breaks up with a girlfriend than when he travels to Sudan and uses satellite photos to catch the Sudanese government committing mass atrocities. 
So here’s my hope for the new year. That our “leaders” in Washington will pause in their supercilious narcissism and show a hint of the seriousness and moral purpose of, yes, celebrities.
What is strange is that there is a lack of self reflection.  Having been criticized for doing the very same thing that he discusses in this section (and does in the whole column), Kristof pointed towards readers lack of response to stories about the Congo.  His trick is to employ a protagonist that can serve as a bridge to the story.

It is important that the DRC receive more coverage, but it is just as important that it receive high quality coverage.  As Africa is a Country pointed out yesterday, there were plenty of articles about the 100th anniversary of South Africa's ANC political party.  Unfortunately, there was some pretty poor reporting in the mix.

Bottom line: More stories would be great, but neglecting quality will amplify damage when the wrong reporting reaches more people.