Pre-Viewing Reading 1: Letter to Students from Nicholas Kristof

The film Reporter follows New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on a reporting trip to central Africa. Facing History asked Kristof what he hoped students would learn from watching Reporter, and he responded with the following letter. What message do you take away from this letter? What does this note reveal about Kristof’s goals as a journalist? How would you respond to him?

Dear student,

Watching Reporter and reading materials from its study guide, you probably won’t want to come to dinner with me—at least not if a warlord is joining us. But I hope you’ll be nourished, if not by a meal together, at least by the ideas in here. Frankly, these are tough issues for high-school students, or for people of any age, and some readers might think that they are more appropriate only for university students. War, genocide and rape are evils we naturally turn away from. But I hope you will not only recognize the horrors of these conflicts, but also appreciate that they are not inevitable. We can make a difference, we can chip away at these kinds of outrages, and we can as a result make this a somewhat better world. And since these brutalities are happening to kids your age, and those much younger—often by perpetrators who are also your age or younger—it’s hard to argue that they are irrelevant to your age group. So welcome to this journey, and I invite you to feel not only outrage but also a sense that you can give voice to the voiceless.

Nicholas Kristof

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