How not to win a trip with Nick Kristof (but impress editors at FP)

Regular readers of the New York Times‘ Op-Ed pages know that foreign affairs columnist Nicholas D. Kristof recently solicited applications for his 2nd annual Win a Trip with Nick Kristof. (Alas, for those still interested, the 2007 deadline has passed. Try again next year.) The contest gives the opportunity for one university student and one ...

602447_nick5.jpg
602447_nick5.jpg

Regular readers of the New York Times' Op-Ed pages know that foreign affairs columnist Nicholas D. Kristof recently solicited applications for his 2nd annual Win a Trip with Nick Kristof. (Alas, for those still interested, the 2007 deadline has passed. Try again next year.) The contest gives the opportunity for one university student and one educator to accompany Kristof on an all-expenses-paid reporting trip to Africa this summer. As expected, Kristof's mailbox has been inundated with a flood of eager applicants, many of them who approach him when he travels around the country making speeches at colleges. But one woman named Loren decided not to apply, and wrote to Kristof to tell him why. Loren's reasoning was so eloquent and compelling that Kristof posted her note on his blog. Here's an excerpt:

Because I am currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I qualify to enter this competition, and have many reasons to do so. I enjoy writing ... I maintain a persistent interest in Africa ... And I'm broke and have never been to Joseph Conrad's "dark continent," so a free trip to a strange land is appealing. Yet, I refuse to apply. I think the way Kristof has cast this trip is a disservice to Africa. Because I believe it the wrong way to motivate action, I am opting out. ... [T]he story of Africa in turmoil is the African narrative that many Americans—and certainly those who read The New York Times—already know. [...] Americans don’t need any more stories of a dying Africa. Instead, we should learn of a living one.

You have to read Loren's entire letter to see how smartly and articulately she is able to address the complexities of Africa and why she thinks Kristof's trip perpetuates media irresponsbility about the continent. If I had Nick Kristof's expense account, I'd take her there in his stead.

Regular readers of the New York Times‘ Op-Ed pages know that foreign affairs columnist Nicholas D. Kristof recently solicited applications for his 2nd annual Win a Trip with Nick Kristof. (Alas, for those still interested, the 2007 deadline has passed. Try again next year.) The contest gives the opportunity for one university student and one educator to accompany Kristof on an all-expenses-paid reporting trip to Africa this summer. As expected, Kristof’s mailbox has been inundated with a flood of eager applicants, many of them who approach him when he travels around the country making speeches at colleges. But one woman named Loren decided not to apply, and wrote to Kristof to tell him why. Loren’s reasoning was so eloquent and compelling that Kristof posted her note on his blog. Here’s an excerpt:

Because I am currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I qualify to enter this competition, and have many reasons to do so. I enjoy writing … I maintain a persistent interest in Africa … And I’m broke and have never been to Joseph Conrad’s “dark continent,” so a free trip to a strange land is appealing. Yet, I refuse to apply. I think the way Kristof has cast this trip is a disservice to Africa. Because I believe it the wrong way to motivate action, I am opting out. … [T]he story of Africa in turmoil is the African narrative that many Americans—and certainly those who read The New York Times—already know. […] Americans don’t need any more stories of a dying Africa. Instead, we should learn of a living one.

You have to read Loren’s entire letter to see how smartly and articulately she is able to address the complexities of Africa and why she thinks Kristof’s trip perpetuates media irresponsbility about the continent. If I had Nick Kristof’s expense account, I’d take her there in his stead.

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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