Not a single Liberian was quoted in the 15-minute segment. The report managed to reduce the people affected by the crisis “to the role of silent victims,” said French. In reality, the experience of Liberians and people living in Guinea and Sierra Leone was much more than Ebola victims.
“Liberians not only died from Ebola, but many of them contributed bravely to the fight against the disease, including doctors, nurses and other caregivers, some of whom gave their lives in this effort. Despite this, the only people heard from on the air were white foreigners who had come to Liberia to contribute to the fight against the disease,” according to the letter.
The other two reports cited were about wildlife in South Africa and Gabon. French says that people of black African descent “make no substantial appearance in either of these reports.” Taken together, the three reports are viewed as evidence that Africans are marginalized to people who have things done to them, rather than do things themselves. This disempowering style is inaccurate and tells an entirely incomplete story, the letter argues.
French has an extensive history of reporting from the African continent. He led the bureaus for the New York Timesin China, Japan, West and Central Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. His books and reporting have garnered awards and high praise. And he is a vocal critic of reporting on Africa.More in the Humanosphere.
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