NYT’s Zimbabwe Coverage (What “Deterioration” Means)

A reminder of what, generally, we stand to lose as newspapers close overseas bureaus and otherwise cut back on foreign coverage.

Today’s print New York Times includes two articles about Zimbabwe. One, on A11, is a short AP article (written from South Africa) reporting that the “The United States can no longer support a proposed Zimbabwean power-sharing deal that wouuld leave Robert Mugabe as president,” said a “top American envoy for Africa,” who cited, among other issues, “the continued deterioration of Zimbabwe’s humanitarian and economic situation.”

To understand what this “deterioration” looks like for many Zimbabweans, we need Celia W. Dugger’s Zimbabwe-datelined A1 piece (jumps to A11) detailing exactly that. Dugger introduces readers, for example, to a “spectrally thin farmer” named Standford Nhira “whose socks have collapsed around his sticklike ankles” before reporting:

The half-starved haunt the once bountiful landscape of Zimbabwe, where a recent United Nations survey found that 7 in 10 people had eaten either nothing or only a single meal the day before.

Still dominated after nearly three decades by their authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans are now enduring their seventh straight year of hunger. This largely man-made crisis…has been brought on by catastrophic agricultural policies, sweeping economic collapse and a ruling party that has used farmland and food as weapons in its ruthless…quest to hang on to power.

A little tougher to tune out than, simply, “the continued deterioration of Zimbabwe’s humanitarian and economic situation.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.