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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zimbabwe's Elderly Population - A BBC Article

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I read an article recently on the BBC website titled "Older Zimbabweans lose life savings", which was about the plight of Zimbabwe’s elderly folks who have been left to fend for themselves during the economic collapse of the country. The photos spoke for themselves and left me completely speechless. I guess I was shocked by the level of poverty and distress that these elderly folks had succumbed to as their children had either died from HIV/AIDS or left the country for greener pastures. The article mentioned how Helpage was helping these folks, but from looking at the pictures it was difficult to determine what, if anything, was being done by Helpage to help these folks.  Something just didn't add up, especially since the article claimed Helpage was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Zimbabwe's elderly population.  So I wrote to Kate Holt, the journalist responsible for the story to ask why the article seemed to be promoting good works by Helpage when there was nothing to show for it in the images. As I waited for a response I decided to look for the Helpage Zimbabwe website.  When I found it I noticed that the same BBC photos were there, except this time, there were ADDITIONAL photos showing the same elderly folks standing in a field of healthy looking corn, or sewing industriously at a sewing machine, or sorting their corn in preparation to grind it into cornmeal - positive images. The Helpage photos were far more balanced and fair than the ones on the BBC.

Why is the BBC so biased? Is this what journalism is today? Take a look below at the BBC vs the Helpage photos and pay attention to your emotions as you review each:


As an African I am very disappointed in the BBC's article which is reckless and damaging. I am not against telling the truth but it must be balanced. The BBC images are the ones the world sees, so you can imagine that this is how Africa in general is perceived. The world's reaction is to disinvest in Africa, create an economic crisis, and worsen the plight of these elderly parents and grandparents. Is there such a thing as "socially responsible journalism"? I think there ought to be.


There is another article written by the BBC about how one in four men in South Africa have admitted to raping a woman at least once. We learned only much later that this statistic was taken from a poll of only 1,000 South African men in a country where 50 million people reside.

Isn't this unethical reporting? Is the intent of the BBC article to build or destroy Africa? Does the article create a desire in you as a reader to reach out and help Africa, or turn your backs and shake your heads at the failure of Africa and walk away? I would love to hear people's thoughts.

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