This article was pretty tough to swallow since I’ve been a Kristof fan for a long, long time. I even tell people that I dream of becoming like him in some sort of way. If you read this article, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. For now, I am going to let it sit.
My initial response is that the writer seems to put way too much blame on Kristof. Kristof is a journalist that is in need of selling newspapers. There are a million other things that Kristof could be, but this is what he’s chosen to do. He’s only one man and therefore can’t be the problem. I agree that there needs to be more work in presenting the structures of violence, the linkages between political systems and the horrors on the ground. But I can’t see how Kristof is somehow to blame. Kristof knows that intimate stories are important for creating narrative and therefore need to be personal and direct. Refashioning his column into a policy research document twice a week will do nothing but draw away readers. It’s like the writer of this article wants Kristof to be more than he is, or more than he could possibly be: which is to somehow be able to completely solve the problems for everyone else and at the same time be popular in doing so.
Here is Kristof’s page over at the New York Times.