by Furry Girl

11.02.11

"At times, working in news is like playing a giant game of telephone. Someone reports something, and everyone else follows suit. The truth gets lost along the way.

'What about the kidnapped children?' a producer in New York asks.

'What kidnapped children?' I say.

'They claim lots of storm orphans are being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery.'

'Who’s "they"?' I ask.

'Everyone,' the producer responds. 'It’s being reported all over the place.'

'We’ll look into it' I respond, which is usually the only way to end such a conversation.

Child trafficking is a major problem, especially in Southeast Asia, but when we start checking the kidnapping story being reported on other networks and papers, it seems slim on facts.  It’s mostly just aid workers worrying that children separated from their parents by the disaster may get kidnapped.  Part of the aid workers’ job is to get relief, and one way for them to do that is to raise red flags, warn of impending problems. Warnings, however, aren’t facts.

We’ve hired a Sri Lankan newspaper reporter named Chris to help us get around, and when I ask him about kidnappings, his eyes light up. 'Oh, yes, it appears a very big problem,' he says, his British-accented English accompanied always with a peculiarly Sri Lankan shake of the head.

Chris shows us a headline on the front page of one of Sri Lanka’s daily papers: TWO KIDS, RESCUED FROM WAVES, KIDNAPPED BY MAN ON MOTORCYCLE.

'There have been a lot of stories like that,' he says. 'It’s all very dramatic stuff.’

'Is it true?' I ask. 

'I have no idea,' he says, 'but it makes for a great headline.'"

-- Anderson Cooper, in his autobiography, Dispatches from the Edge.

Cooper goes on to follow this story, learning that the only two children reported to have been kidnaped were actually taken to a hospital by a good citizen on a motorcycle.

This book was a holiday present from a relative, and while I never would have picked it up it on my own, this memoir was better than I was expecting for a TV personality's bestseller.





1 Comment

  1. Comment by Trackbacks — August 2, 2014 @ 1:31 am

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