As tempting as it is for Americans to focus attention inward as American democracy feels like it is imploding, it is vital to remember that the United States is still a power that reaches into lives, and sometimes deals death, around the world. If Chinua Achebe’s famously wise words were right, if evil really does thrive best in “quiet, untidy corners,” then foreign correspondents must persevere there.
That’s Christina Goldbaum, a 2014 college graduate and a new reporter with The New York Times. Before joining The Times, Goldbaum was an award-winning freelance journalist in East Africa and the only foreign correspondent permanently based in Somalia.
Listening to people on the ground is the crux of good journalism. The gossip of the day is laid bare as people sit around a table or on cushions sprawled across carpeted floors. Northerns and Southerns, those from large clans and those from small, from the coast and from the regions, debate everything from which sub-clans are fighting in which areas to the whispers of illegal arms shipments making their way into the city. For Somalis in Mogadishu, this is the typical chat with friends at the end of a work day. For a journalist, it is a goldmine of potential tips.
Freelancers like myself all over the world, often operating on shoestring budgets and with little to no institutional support, despite our empty bank accounts and the utterly un-glamorous lives we lead, believe as those who came before us believed that holding those in power to account and breaking down the boundaries that divide people is hugely important. And like those who came before us, we are drawn also by that age-old, addicting sensation that no decline of the industry can smother: the feeling of chasing down a ground truth obscured in the edges of our world and plugging into something much bigger than ourselves.
Click on the photo to read Goldbaum’s entire piece, “Moving to Mogadishu” in the Overseas Press Club publication.
Never doubt the existence and dedication of young foreign correspondents like Christina Goldbaum. In supporting us, you support them as they report important news and information from the world’s “quiet, untidy corners.”
With warmest regards,