Archive for July, 2012

Give Oprah a Break on India

Posted on July 30, 2012, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, Media.

Oprah Winfrey has been trashed for her recent television special on India, based on a trip she made to the country in January. She’s been accused of reinforcing stereotypes and oversimplifying a complex country.

Yes, maybe the two episodes, part of her primetime series “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” were cheesy. “There is nothing like this country,” she said in the preview. “I am forever changed by the experience.”

But it’s Oprah. Of course she’s cheesy.

Yes, maybe the show provided a slightly simplistic, superficial view of India. She visits the Taj Mahal and meets with Bollywood stars.

But it’s American TV for a mass audience. Of course it’s simplistic and superficial.

Furthermore, much of what Oprah presents is exactly what newcomers notice when they come to India. It would be a little strange for an American to visit Mumbai or Delhi and not notice the cows wandering the streets and hanging out at train stations. Sure, maybe mentioning the cows is a cliché and not the most creative storytelling. But does that make it rude and offensive? Hardly.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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Live Blog: Making Sense of the Damascus Bombing

Posted on July 18, 2012, by Hanna Ingber, under International.

An unprecedented bombing in Damascus targeting the core of the Syrian regime has killed the country’s defense minister, the president’s brother-in-law, and other elite officials. What will happen next? Here’s GlobalPost’s coverage from Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and elsewhere.

Read the Live Blog here.

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Reporting in Myanmar, a Test of New Limits

Posted on July 12, 2012, by Hanna Ingber, under Burma, International, Media.

YANGON, Myanmar — We are sitting on the floor, our legs crossed, talking intensely about the young Kachin woman’s work as a human rights activist. Ah Hkawn, 30, has hiked for days into the mountains to talk to villagers who faced physical or sexual abuse by the Myanmar army. She has visited relief camps to bring aid and supplies to those displaced by fighting.

I ask Ah Hkawn if I can take a photo of her to accompany my articles. She looks at me and with an expression of deep reflection says: “I don’t know.” She pauses and asks, “You think it’s OK?”

I traveled to Yangon in May and throughout my trip activists, aid workers and clinicians again and again told me they didn’t know if they could have their names or photographs used because they were no longer sure where the line was.

In the past, when a military dictatorship ran Myanmar (also called Burma) for close to five decades, the rules were clear. If someone said anything critical of the regime or any aspect of the country, he or she could face trouble with the authorities.

“If this was in the past regime,” says a health worker after an interview about the state of Myanmar’s health care system, “oh, my God, I couldn’t say anything!”

But now? Now that Myanmar is suddenly (and finally) in a time of transition and reform, the old rules no longer apply. And the new rules are still unclear.

After numerous interviews on everything from political reform to gender equality to HIV/AIDS treatment, sources paused and had an internal debate about whether they wanted their name and the name of their organization in my articles. When I was interviewing multiple people at once, they would turn towards each other and discuss it. When it was just the two of us, they would ask my opinion. None of us knew the answer.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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