On international reporting

Excerpt from a recent MONOCOLUMN:

Wars have often turned jobbing journalists into household names and given them a heroic lustre in the process. And anyone who was surfing TV channels in the UK and beyond on Sunday [21 August] night would have had to agree that one flak-jacket hard-hat wearing reporter stood out from all the other microphone-toting media types: Sky News’s Alex Crawford.

A mother of four, Sky News’s Alex Crawford reporting from India

Ever since William Russell – commonly acknowledged to be the first “war reporter” – provided frontline accounts for the Times from the Crimean war, conflicts have come to be, in part, remembered for the journalists on the ground. The late Brian Hanrahan will always be linked to the Falklands conflict. Rageh “Scud Stud” Omaar was the journalistic “face” of the Iraq war in 2003. And the fall of Kabul in 2001 was defined for many by John Simpson’s “liberation walk” into the city.

Mr. Kristof has taken a special interest in Web journalism and was the first blogger on The New York Times Web site.

Three times winner of the Royal Television Society Journalist of the Year award, Alex Crawford is based in South Africa as Sky News Special Correspondent reporting from across the continent and deployed to big stories around the world.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week.

Mr. Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to more than 150 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island. He jokes that he’s one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the so-called Axis of Evil. During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with malaria, mobs and an African airplane crash.

Mr. Kristof has taken a special interest in Web journalism and was the first blogger on The New York Times Web site.

He has visited the Darfur region more than 10 times. His columns have often focused on global health and poverty and he has also written often about human trafficking.

From a 2006 interview for Christianity Today:

I’ve been surprised since I got the column that newspapers columns have less persuasive power than most people believe. When I write about an issue that is already out there, that persuades very few people. On the contrary, when I write about an issue people aren’t thinking about, I can help put it on the agenda. If I take something like sex trafficking, Darfur, or AIDS orphans, then I can make people feel pretty bad over breakfast. Feeling bad is often their first step toward generating some kind of response to deal with the problem.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who are alive today in Darfur because an outcry has galvanized the White House to provide a lot of humanitarian aid. But there are hundreds of thousands of others who are dead because we all didn’t do more. If churches around the country had stood up at the end of 2003 or early 2004, if newspapers and television stations had stood up, then we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. They died on our watch.

Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism

In 1990 Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, then also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are authors of “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia” and “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”. Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are the parents of Gregory, Geoffrey and Caroline. Mr. Kristof enjoys running, backpacking, and having his Chinese and Japanese corrected by his children.

Frankly, the most influential work I ever did was an article back in 1996 on ordinary third world ailments that kill lots of people. Bill Gates happened to read the article at a moment when he was wondering how to reorient his foundation, and he credits the article—actually, the chart that went with it—with helping him think about using his foundation to address public health issues in the developing world.


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