Checkpoint extortion

It’s interesting to see how the likes of Amnesty, International Crisis Group and above all Human Rights Watch have started to move into investigative journalism. This HRW report from this week is a good read. Overall there are many positives in this trend, but I wonder if there’s also something negative – media houses have pulled back, and sources of reliable news coverage seems to depend on fewer and fewer actors (Reuters et al) often quoting ICG/Amnesty/HRW as the hallowed experts. Amnesty-ICG-HRW are in turn frequently the cause of many developing world news stories (Amnesty condemns XX).

As I said, overall I think it’s a good thing. But I do wonder i) why aren’t the real concerned people telling me directly (e.g. cocoa truck drivers) through local civil society organisations or even directly to the web, ii) am I comfortable with researchers replacing journalists?

On a rather different matter, I do think these groups need to go multimedia. Text reports are fine, but particularly on checkpoint corruption, it’s amazing just how brazen and open it is in Ivory Coast. If someone rigged up a cocoa truck with small video cameras (e.g. Hero IIIs) or used mobile phones, they could capture an amazing amount. If the video didn’t go viral (and there’s a good chance it would), it would still make an impact with decision makers in Abidjan. It’d be a lot of fun as well.

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