Bad & Ugly – where’s the Good?

If you follow Niger news, you may have run across this story today: Niger fell to the bottom spot on Save the Children’s “Mothers Index”. According to Save, it’s worse to be a mother in Niger than in Afghanistan – cue the exaggerated news stories! Afghanistan’s getting better, and some poor African country is still shitty. It’s amazing how fast we can fall back into the “poor Africa” narrative so soon after great examples of positive and well-analyzed journalism (see posts from May 3 & May 5).

Fortunately, TamTamInfo made me smile today. This local hub of Niger news ran the mothers index story alongside a piece of good news that most of us in the West probably missed: Niger rose 75 places in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index! This is the biggest rise of any country between 2010 and 2012. (Find the report here.) And not only that, Niger is now # 29 in their ranking, higher than France (#38) and the United States (#47). RSF has strong praise for the new Nigerien government:

The economic environment for Niger’s media is very precarious but they are free and benefit from favourable legislation. Media freedom violations have virtually disappeared.

Another NGO, another index. Totally different image.

I don’t mean to disparage maternal health challenges – Nigerien mothers face immense challenges, as I’m sure do Afghan mothers. But breaking news that Afghanistan and Niger have switched places at the bottom of the mother’s index? Good PR for Save isn’t necessarily helpful to addressing the problem. I hope the stories out there include some genuine discussion of challenges and efforts to address them.

If that’s breaking news, then leapfrogging 75 other countries in RSF’s Press Freedom rankings must surely be newsworthy. At least Niger’s own media is free enough to juxtapose the Good with the Bad. Even if the make the rest of us look Ugly.


About developingnathan
I am a reflective person. I am an introvert, a friend, a brother and a son. I appreciate a well-crafted glass of beer, piece of music and turn of phrase. I am a professional of international development, a good pianist and a Green Bay Packers fan.

3 Responses to Bad & Ugly – where’s the Good?

  1. alyssaqed says:

    Good to know I’m not the only Carl with a development blog! I really like your content on Niger; really interesting commentary on a country and region I have to admit I know very little about. Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?

    • Of course! Us Carls gotta stick together. I’m looking forward to following your updates from India too, researching cookstoves sounds like a fantastic summer.

      • alyssaqed says:

        Thanks! I’m hoping to get a lot of good experience. I’m told that internet access will be sporadic where I am, so we’ll see!

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