Correspondent Cynthia McFadden talking with Lester Holt on the set of NBC Nightly News, March 6, 2019

I stumbled upon this story about the chaotic situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) on TV Newswer, a website focused on things that are going on in the media and telecommunications landscape.  

Then I turned to the reporting that correspondent Cynthia McFadden had produced for NBC News pertaining to her recent trip to the CAR to see what was going on. 

And there is plenty of reporting that McFadden has done about this on the different networks of NBC News. When you add to it the print versions of the story in affiliated media, then we see how far and wide the story has gone.

What’s the story-line?  Chaos and insecurity in the Central African Republic. 

One of the headlines produced by McFadden’s team says it all – an African nation in shambles.  Nothing could be more devastating than to see and describe a nation that is in shambles. The headline reads as follows. 

“This African nation is now the ‘most dangerous place in the world for children’

Beset by a raging civil war and looming famine, the Central African Republic is in shambles.”

An Eye-Opener about Child Mortality in the Central African Republic 

Very true, the CAR is in shambles. Civil war has taken a big toll on the country. Hats off to NBC News for the eye-opening look into what is really going on there.

NBC has a duty to report about all the issues taking place in the CAR, including the extreme starvation of children and the high levels of child mortality in the country. I did not realize the extreme situation myself except that the country was recovering following a recent peace agreement between rebels and the government.

Also from a journalistic perspective it’s a good thing that McFadden and her team traveled to CAR to see first-hand what was taking place in the country and not just talk about it.

The Story Brings Back Memories of 1980’s Famine in Ethiopia

Also when disaster breaks, we are thankful that humanitarian organizations can can go in and help where governments have failed. That is certainly a good thing. Plenty of organizations have stepped in to bring aid to dying children in the CAR. United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) certainly needs to be praised for its work there.

The photos from the story bring back memories of the starvation of children in Ethiopia in the 1980’s when the country faced famine and a hunger crisis following years of drought and conflict. At the time shocking photos of dying children, with their skeletal figures, appeared on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazine, all of which painted pictures of a country that was in shambles.

Even while journalists have no responsibility for what caused the conflict in the CAR, except to report about it, it could be said that the reporting adds fuel to continued Afro-pessimism we’ve become used to. And that perception of the CAR, and by extension the African continent, as a dead-end and a hopeless place, lingers.

Which is why many will wonder why the story is even needed at this time?

While it is important to report what’s going on in the CAR – child starvation – the plunder that has followed civil war in the country – it must also be said that the CAR is not alone. Will the CAR overcome this? That’s the big question.