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A not-so-friendly assessment of Nick Kristof’s portraits of the poor

Many of us depend upon the New York Times’ Nick Kristof’s compelling and heartfelt columns to gain perspective on the many forms of inequity and tragedy experienced by the poor and disenfranchised around the world.

But some feel Kristof tends to over-simplify, or even caricaturize, these people and their problems. Here’s one such (extensive) view put forth by Elliott Prasse-Freeman in The New Enquiry:

Writes Prasse-Freeman:

Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times journalist, is often hailed as a defender of the downtrodden, courageously reporting those man-made events that “shock the conscience.”

Kristof’s ability to frame and deliver the world’s horrors to millions—in a way that keeps those millions coming back for more—seemingly should make him worthy of the hero worship that has attended his rise. Indeed, what is worse than a privileged bourgeois population that knows nothing of the way the other half (or rather the other 99 percent) lives?

But, Prasse-Freeman goes on, the “devil is in the details” and there are some details that Kristof tends to always leave out of his stories that may be doing more harm than good. Read on.



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.