Long-running CBS news series 60 Minutes is under fire from a group of journalists and scholars responding to recent reports from the show primarily focused on the Ebola outbreak in Africa. According to the group, the program’s approach to Black Africans and the fight over the deadly disease comes across as outdated and “anachronistic.”
Deadline reported about a letter from former New York Times foreign correspondent and current associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Howard W. French, which was also signed by over 150 others. The letter was sent to 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager and posted online at the blog, A Glimpse Of The World.
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In the letter, the signers most notably dinged the CBS newsmagazine for a segment in which Lara Logan went to Liberia last year to cover the ebola epidemic in that country. “In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest,” the letter scolds.
“Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity” though Liberians not only died of ebola, many of them contributed to the fight against the disease, including doctors, nurses and other caregivers, some of whom died in the effort. “Despite this, the only people heard from on the air were white foreigners who had come to Liberia to contribute to the fight against the disease.”
60 Minutes has invited French and others to discuss the letter and a rep says the program is proud of its coverage of Africa despite the criticism.
To see French’s full posting, click here.