Local Angle

Reporters on stories in their home countries that should be global news


Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

Villages in Kurata, in the country’s southwest, have been covered by soot and smoke for more than 25 years because of burning waste products from nearby industries. These villages suffer because the government does not pay enough attention to pollution, despite the fact that a report by the World Health Organization found that four of the worst cities in the world for air pollution are in Nigeria.

Aisha Salaudeen is a journalist covering development, business, and human interest stories in Africa.




Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

Yemen is always seen as a cesspool of terrorism. But the international media has not covered the successful strategy employed by local authorities, backed by the United Arab Emirates, to push extremists out of areas they once controlled. The key tactic was recruiting locals. Recently, local soldiers liberated and secured Hadramout and Shabwa Provinces. 

Saleh al-Batati is an Aden-based freelance journalist.




Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

Throughout the war in Afghanistan, the US military has soft-pedaled the number of civilian casualties. Michael Pompeo, the secretary of state, has done everything in his power to stop the International Criminal Court—a body that the Trump administration does not think should have jurisdiction over American activity—from investigating. Meanwhile, every US air strike that I have reported on reveals the deaths of innocents. 

Mohammed Harun Arsalai is a writer and media activist. He is a cofounder of the independent media project Documenting Afghanistan.




Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

In January, a dam collapse in the state of Minas Gerais killed hundreds of people. For years, Vale, the mining company responsible for the dam, has escaped serious government oversight; in 2015 another dam partly under its ownership collapsed, and 19 people died. These cases should become known like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan: they matter not merely as local news, but also as emblems of a recurring, widespread lack of corporate responsibility. 

Sérgio Spagnuolo is the founder and managing editor of news agency Volt Data Lab.



South Africa

Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

For the past three years, the Daily Maverick, where I work, has been reporting on allegations that global-consulting and financial-service giants have helped politicians and businessmen in South Africa steal taxpayers’ money. The companies involved include Bain Capital, McKinsey, KPMG, and Deloitte. We think their role in corruption here should be international news. 

Rebecca Davis is a senior reporter at the Daily Maverick, a South African online independent news outlet.




Illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans

Eight years ago, in Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan, police opened fire on protesters after a long-standing strike by oil workers erupted into a riot. The town was cordoned off; cellular and landline communications were cut. I found credible information that 64 people were killed and 400 were injured. The government has admitted just 16 deaths, despite evidence of mass graves. 

Elena Kostyuchenko is a special correspondent for Novaya Gazeta in Russia.

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The Editors are the staffers of the Columbia Journalism Review.

TOP IMAGE: Illustrations by Jasjyot Singh Hans