African Adoptions and Journalists

The recent release of French journalists involved in the Chadian/Darfurian childgate saga seems troubling to me, contrary to self-congratulatory notes by press watchdog groups, who for once, quickly got what they were asking for.

One of the three journalists was apparently on leave.

She was also thinking, she said this herself, of perhaps (temporarily) adopting one of the non-orphans. Basically, she was part of this cabal of kidnapping do-gooders. She says she had a camera, but it's not clear for who she was filming.

Not enough is being done for these children! Let's bandage them up, make them look like they're sick and fly them out for health care! Are they orphans from Darfur? It does not matter. There are refugee camps all around. We've landed a huge plane on a small airstrip out in the middle of desert nowhere, have a Belgian septuagenarian pilot at the commands; might as well load them up. The French catholic families have paid us money, we better get back with dozens of little African children for their needy hearts.

Prior to this woman's release, her French boss said "a journalist is always a journalist, whether or not on duty."

I believe that either you are working, or you aren't. And when you're working, your first priority is coverage, not anything else.

I tell people who catcall me saying I am making money from their misery, a journalist's calling is to try to bring the world closer together, to raise awareness and alert against abuses, and if done properly, overall, it should bring good, rather than forcing down sensationalism, tackiness, perpetuate myths and cliches, reinforce differences, envy or pity, as is unfortunately often the going practice.

You can always criticize the longer term macro reconstructed disemination of a given plight over more immediate micro relief, but I believe a journalist is better equiped to handle the former in almost all instances.

Releasing that woman has a counterbalance of turning journalists into pompous freeloaders asking to be targets.

It should be up to the Chadian judicial system to decide in Chad, where these crimes were alleged to have been committed.

I was once waiting for a plane to leave Liberia, and this Canadian woman was sitting with a half dozen Liberian pre-teens all of them with mental and physical disabilities.

She said she was already taking care of more than 20 other African children back on a farm in Alberta. Her eyes were crooked like many of those of the children lazily playing around her. I had a sense that even though she probably had a big heart, she was also violently uprooting them.

I didn't even take out my recorder to get some of her story on tape, as I thought to myself, I have no idea what is involved here. Plus, I'm on way back to my base, just a traveller.

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