16 November 2010

Slicing and Dicing Development

Last week I was at a presentation by Nicholas Kristof the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist (who was also cited recently by the folks at Aidwatch on DIY Aid).

He was telling the nutrition community that they needed to do a better job of "slicing and dicing" the issues and the solutions if they wanted ordinary citizens to pay attention to malnutrition. He cited the "malaria=bednets" branding as one example. Why the need to resort to this? Because the media has no interest in covering things that happen everyday (e.g. children dying of malnutrition). There is, he said, "no day in which this is news". He argued that the humanitarian community was not particularly good at "pitching itself" either.

Not much new there really (Charlie Beckett has written much more thought provoking stuff on the role of the media in development).

I tried and failed to ask Kristof a question: why wasn't his newspaper, the New York Times, doing what the Guardian is doing with its Development pages and supporting informed debate among its readers who are interested in development? Of course the Guardian experiment runs the risk of insiders talking only to insiders, but at least the Guardian is trying and will presumably evaluate whether there is any valued added.

Come on New York Times, DIY!


Tobias Denskus said...

I also wrote about 'DIY aid' on my blog, because I think Nick Kristof and his writing are an interesting case study of how 'development journalism' is changing-but that it also risks to get stuck in the Twitter/Social Media/New York City circles of the development debates:

DIY aid: A report on a 'revolution' or merely an indication of how development journalism is changing?


David Dickson (SciDev) said...

Enjoyed your emailing (as I always do). Just wanted to comment on this
one, however, that you shouldn't ignore the "small fish" -- such as
ourselves at SciDev.Net -- who are trying to do exactly this, and indeed would like to develop better ways of doing so with the substantial resources that organisations like The Guardian have at their command.

See, for example, the lively debate that took place, with more than half
the comments coming from developing countries, in response to a recent
article on the use of jatropha as a biofuel: