Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Niger Making Cameo Appearances on U.S. Networks

Possible Starvation of Millions Starts To Be Noted, But Still Not Compelling Enough for Regular Treatment?
It was nice to see over the weekend CNN having a diplomat from Niger on live Sunday morning to discuss the famine that imperils his country. More so, it was startling to see later in the day on NBC Nightly News two reports on the situation, first a Q&A with an ITN reporter there, second a New York-based dispatch from Dawn Fratangelo on why aid is not getting there faster.
Networks nowadays traditionally relegate much of their foreign coverage to the weekends, particularly when nothing is stirring on the homefront, which is often the case during the summer.
When 3.6 million people are threatened with starvation, you'd think that should be the focus of more in-depth treatment. But of course the networks' coverage of anything in Africa is intermittent at best. Too expensive. Too hard to relate to. Too much time taken away from stories about Natalee Holloway. And so on.
True, no one said it's easy to cover a crisis in one of the world's poorest nations. The satellite phones may not work and there's no Marriott to retreat to after a hard day of witnessing untold misery. But that's news biz. Seems it would be hard to find a more compelling story right now. News organizations have no trouble parachuting in journos when bullets are flying on the Continent. Why not a similar treatment when a nation is weakened by a more pernicious enemy than greed or power?
Some interesting dispatches are getting out, including this one from the AP that highlights how food is available if you have the cash that few in Niger have ever possessed.
And if Niger's president is to be believed, the food crisis may actually be easing:,,2-11-1447_1748154,00.html
Nonetheless, it's a story that won't go away soon, and as the Christian Science Monitor reports, is one that is an issue elsewhere in Africa and will continue to be so. Which means it demands our attention, and not just on Sunday.

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