Some of the world is also aware that Australian snapper Nigel Brennan was also kidnapped at the same time. Google search on “”Amanda Lindhout” Somalia” and you get 4,070 results; there are also two Amanda Lindhout Facebook groups boasting nearly 2,000 members (as of this blog post). A search on “”Nigel Brennan” Somalia” pulls up 2,950 results and he has a Facebook group with 7 members (as of this blog post).
Chalk that up to pretty young women always making better news stories than scruffy older men. But only our quiet racism and media myopia can account for our mostly ignoring the Somali victims of last weekend’s abductions (although it’s possible some of the “victims” were actually accomplices in the crime):
Search on Somalian photojournalist/guard/translator Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi (pictured) and you’ll currently find 449 Google search results; the driver from the Shamo Hotel, by the name of Marwali, brings in just 10 search results and the group’s driver Mahad Clise garners a grand total of 0 search results. Yet all three were kidnapped at the same time in the same place.
“Statistically speaking it is the lives of the Somalis that are most at risk here,” Holliday continues. “The parachuted-in freelances have a decent price on their heads — they’re worth holding on to. With lack of press support and/or interest, it is the local fixers, hacks, drivers and guards who are not only under-reported, but often expendable in these situations.”
The price Somali journalists pay just for doing their jobs is astounding to those of us accustomed to press freedom. The corrupt Transitional Federal Government in Somalia routinely arrests and harasses native journos who accurately report government misdeeds in Mogadishu, as I explained in a piece for Columbia Journalism Review last year:
The new and widely unpopular government, based 100 miles north in Baidoa, has just managed to hang on to power, in part by suppressing reporting on fighting that has claimed around 7,000 lives [in 2007]. Eight Somali reporters also have died. “They don’t want people talking about what is happening in Mogadishu,” Ahmed Omar Hashi, a veteran reporter for Shabelle Radio, says of the government.
(Photo: Philip Poupin)