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Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Sloppy Qualitative Reporting?

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Cash Transfer programs have received a lot of research attention in the past dozen years. See here for a summary report.

Replacing food handouts with cash is an increasingly observed trend in Malawi. A piece by Oxfam in the Mail & Guardian does a nice job of presenting the commentary of program participants.

Oxfam’s cash trickle goes a long way in Malawi.

The quant in me would like to see some evaluation evidence on how the Oxfam cash transfers shift the nature and timing of recipients’ consumption. But, I do really enjoy seeing the voices of people receive some coverage. As acknowledge through these quotes, there is a host of foods and non-food (school fees, roofing, medical) that are not easily targeted through in-kind transfers.

However, that is not the main message of this post.

I am really concerned about the confidentiality of those interviewed. Are we to assume that the M&G or Oxfam received authorization to publish people’s pictures, names, age and home district while quoting them as saying things like, “I’m married with two children, and I’m HIV positive. We used to survive on my husband’s charcoal burning and my ganyu.”

There has been some progress in reducing stigma toward people living with HIV/AIDS. But for the vast majority of people it is still very private information.

At the very least, this is sloppy qualitative research and journalism. I understand that the writer wants to put a personal touch to the story. It could have been written with greater assurance that the identity of sources is protected. It’s a shame that a positive story is done so sloppily.


Written by Niall

May 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Journalism, Malawi

Paragraph of condescension

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I ate my first mouse last weekend. In summary, this was a one minute experience with about 24 unique flavors, uncountable bones crunched and two near vomit moments. I managed to swallow the whole thing despite my better mental and guttural judgment.

This act of masochism was in part a protest of a recent article sent around by the Associated Press (picked up here and here, for example).

The first three paragraphs are fun and mostly harmless. But then comes to unecessarily canned and out of context “malawi is poor” fourth paragraph.

Malawi, with a population of 12 million, is among the poorest countries in the world, with rampant disease and hunger, aggravated by periodic droughts and crop failure.

The paragraph is not inaccurate (maybe the population, which is now above 13 M), but it is entirely unnecessary. I find it infuriating when the MSM spreads brainless generalizations of African countries.

Matt over at Aid Thoughts writes the reply that I wish I had written;

This sentence is copied onto the end of every single photo description in the article. It reflects the media’s preferred African stereotype. Yes, Malawi is poor, disease-ridden, and often hungry, but it is really defined by these things? If we’re going to start bringing more dignity to development, we’ll need to start with our newspapers.

America, with a population of 300 million, is one of the fattest countries of the world, with a frighteningly awful perception of poor countries, aggravated by a befuddled, profit-driven media.

Written by Niall

September 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Africa, Journalism, Malawi

Tagged with , ,

Global NYTimes

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I never understood the relationship between the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. IHT always seems to get most of it content from the NYTimes.

With the launch of its Global Edition, clearly the NYTimes is looking to fully integrate IHT with its regular operations. Directing your browser to http://www.iht.com also brings you to the NYTimes Global Edition.

Is this true witht he print eddition, too?

On first impressions, I like what I see. I fear, however, that this means that the IHT will only print NYTimes material.

Written by Niall

June 15, 2009 at 9:04 am

Posted in Journalism

Man bites dog. Scratch that…

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A New York Sun editor, John B. Bogart, is attributed with the following quote:

When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.

Well, Mr. Bogart must be having a chuckle somewhere…

From the BBC: Man bites snake in epic struggle.

Too much.

Written by Niall

April 16, 2009 at 6:45 am

Posted in Africa, Journalism, Kenya