Thursday, 8 March 2007

Worst Crisis Question of the Month

This was a short post on my Reuters AlertNet blog on 8 March 2007. Sadly, sharing the experience didn't help.

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As Media Director of the International Crisis Group, I obviously answer a lot of journalists' questions about various conflicts. Some might even say it's part of my job. Of course, nearly all the journalists who call me are deeply interested in the conflicts they are covering and have sharp questions. On rare occasions, however, I get something thrown at me that is so outrageously crass or ill-informed that it bothers me for weeks. Perhaps by sharing it, I can purge myself of the memory.

A few weeks ago, I was doing a live phone interview on Darfur for a radio broadcaster -- which, though the market leader in the European nation where it operates, shall remain nameless to protect the guilty -- and as I was discussing the current situation, the interviewer broke in to ask me: "But why is it bad that the war in Sudan is spreading to Chad and the Central African Republic?"

Now, I know instinctively that silence is about the worse thing possible on radio, but honestly, I had to breathe deeply for a second or two just to maintain my composure and not bark at the guy and call him a complete idiot. Finally, I went through a simple list of why a bigger war is worse than a smaller one: "More war means more killing, more torture, more rape, more people displaced from their homes…" and so on. It's hard to believe it can get so basic at times.

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