Chief Correspondent

The New York Times is advertising for a Nairobi Bureau Chief:

Our Nairobi bureau chief has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania. It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.

The ideal candidate should enjoy jumping on news, be willing to cover conflict, and also be drawn to investigative stories. There is also the chance to delight our readers with unexpected stories of hope and the changing rhythms of life in a rapidly evolving region.

The NYT puts itself out there as the journal of choice for American progressives, yet its view of Africa seems to be based on an encyclopedia printed in 1910 combined with the Instagram postings of some teenage airhead deployed with the Peace Corps. Unsurprisingly, Africans on social media aren’t too impressed and through them I found this rather amusing article: How to write about Africa.

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9 thoughts on “Chief Correspondent

  1. “It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.”

    Reminds me of living in South London.

  2. One wonders what the NYT ad for a bureau chief to cover darkest Louisiana (with maybe occasional forays into — gulp! — Occupied Alabama) would read like?

  3. There’s massive growth in tech on the west coast of Africa since a new undersea fibre optic cable was fitted. Microsoft have opened up centres in Nairobi and Lagos, and Lambda School are in the same (plus Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana).

  4. Shouldn’t the advert say “The ideal candidate should have a martyrdom complex and/or be seriously contemplating suicide and have a fully paid up life insurance policy at their own expense”. All that vibrant diversity just might catch up with fatal consequences, particularly Ebola.

    Perhaps Liberia might be a good place to set up the office?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRuSS0iiFyo

    Plenty of that vibrant diversity to satisfy anyone, eh?

  5. Dear Phil,

    The Ebola region is on the other side of the continent, a few thousand kilometres away. That’s the region where the locals trap sparrows for something to eat. Rats have a hard life there too.

    Relative to the rest of Africa, Kenya almost counts as a thriving success. Islamic fundamentalists have no more than a toehold there.

    I live in the most modern part of Africa (way down south) and the rest of it is very much as the ad describes. Boys’ Own stuff. Governments with no governance and the landscape littered with failed aid projects.

  6. Michaela Wong wrote the very good “In the footsteps of Mr Kurtz” about Congo. She has a very funny piece out there somewhere about being asked by a newly arrived journo to talk about the country. His sojourn turned into the book “Blood River”. Although I don;t think she actually identifies him, that’s the bloke she’s talking about.

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