Global Politics

Zimbabwean photo doesn't tell the whole story

RN says the woman's story sounded believable at first: she said Zanu PF thugs came into her house looking for her husband but took her one year old baby instead and threw him onto the floor and broke his ankles. We believed the story at the time, she didn't ask for money so we had no reason to doubt her story and there were plenty of horrific events happening in Zimbabwe. We had been thrown out of that particular hospital a couple days earlier so it was hard to check out. That's all our excuse for why we made this mistake. I guess the baby just had a clubbed foot condition which explains for the casts on the legs. (Has the mother acknowledged she lied?) The mother was in hiding in the first place and then the mother moved her hiding place. So what we did do is have a local reporter in Zimbabwe go down and talk to her at her house. The mother had said her home was destroyed but it actually was not and neighbors told us she had a baby with clubbed feet. (Why would the mother lie about something like this?) She didn't have an apparent motive which is why we figured she was telling the truth. (Her husband worked for the opposition also allegedly.) We don't know if that's true though. (What is the situation now in Zimbabwe that would make it so difficult to find out even basic details like this?) The child was a girl, that we are sure of and I don't know why other papers wanted to think she was a boy except that they relied on local stringers instead of their own correspondents. There were a lot of other victims of violence we were able to see. (So if there are so many other cases of violence carried about by the government, why is it that this one particular story so important?) We live in a television age and everyone is looking for a vivid image that tells a story, and that was one such image. We're not getting a lot of images out to depict the violence, because the government is cracking down on photographers so much. (Do you know what's happened to the girl since then?) No, we don't�the mother is not making herself available.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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