Kristof and the Challenge of Race in Africa Stories

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  07.14.10 | 1:37 PM ET

Nicholas KristofPhoto by Fred R. Conrad

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof is answering reader questions on video, and one answer, in particular—see the video below—touches on a sensitive topic: coverage of black Africans as victims and white visitors as their saviors.

Kristof admits to sometimes using white people as “bridge” characters in his Times stories to help draw in readers in America who might otherwise turn the page upon seeing a story about Central Africa.

San Francisco Chronicle Editor at Large Phil Bronstein likes Kristof’s answer: “[A]dmitting that there’s a white reporter’s burden in writing about Africa is among the braver things he’s done. It’s the bold revelation of a messy little secret not so mysterious to those of us in the profession.”

Bronstein’s blog post about it, which draws on his own reporting experiences, is a good read.

A quick note on related World Hum coverage: Kristof has talked about his own formative travel experiences in a World Hum interview, and Frank Bures has tackled the “white man’s burden” in Africa—and the perspective of Bono, among others—in a provocative World Hum essay, Suffering and Smiling: Vanity Fair Does Africa.

Here’s the Kristof video:

(Via Romenesko)

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