The ‘cluttered’ mindset of ITV news correspondent Dan Rivers

Dan Rivers with President Koroma at State House

Dan Rivers with President Koroma at State House

It is indeed disgraceful when someone who is supposed to be a professionally trained journalist sets out on a disingenuous mission to embarrass a sitting African Head of State instead of focusing on his expressed desire to interview him about the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. When  an offer was made by the country’s Defence Minister inviting the western media to interview the Head of State, ITV News reporter, Dan Rivers, informed the government  about  his intention to interview the president on the Ebola outbreak. But on a closer look at how the interview was conducted, Rivers seemed to have been more concerned about what he referred to as “clutter and the presence of numerous advisers and press secretaries.” Rivers may have to be reminded that what he witnessed at State House was no different from how such interviews are conducted at number 10 Downing Street. It seems Rivers did not do his homework properly before embarking on tarnishing the image of the president. Number 10 advisers and handlers are normally present in numbers when Prime Minister Cameron is having press conferences and interviews with the media. and where is it more cluttered than number 10 Dowmimg Street? Rivers should be advised to hunt for Cherie Blair’s Book during their stint at number 10 and read how she described the clutter Tony Blair had around him while serving as Prime Minister.

It is simply disgraceful that an ITV News reporter can embark on such a nasty mission, removing all the sensitivity that should have accompanied  a grave and desperate situation as that of this Ebola Scourge which has taken many lives already, and has the potential to explode into a world-wide catastrophe. ITV News should not only apologize to the Sierra Leone president, but should also endeavour to re-train Dan Rivers on the tenets of the journalism profession with emphasis on not sensationalizing a very serious issue as Ebola.

Most Western Journalists when on assignments across Africa, make attempts to ridicule their hosts for one reason or another.  They see African leaders as easy targets and extremely vulnerable to journalistic tactics and pranks. Writing for, Rivers had this to say: “Behind a desk at the far side, was an elderly gentleman making notes” Is Rivers so daft that he can’t distinguish between a grey-haired man from an elderly person? President Koroma is surely not an elderly man,  but Rivers was clearly making a mockery of the head of state and it was a deliberate attempt to present the Head of State as unfit for his office.

I noticed there was no mention of the outstanding work already being undertaken by the Head of State to contain the Virus, like the recent Lockdown and the increase in salary and other incentives to frontline workers, or even the extraordinary investment programmes underway across the country. This was not Dan Rivers’ mission. It was pre-meditated fallacy to cause the maximum damage to a country and president in need of assistance. Rivers clearly did not focus on what mattered: Ebola. Instead, he directed his audience to the irrelevant – things far away from the original intent of the interview. This is a clear showcase of reckless endeavour by  ITV News who may have given Rivers the script  to act on. It is a also a clear case of how the Western media view African Heads of States. The lack of respect for their office is evident in Rivers’ report and ITV news executives should hang their Heads in shame for conducting themselves in such a shambolic manner.

Dan Rivers could have earned the respect of the International community and the affected countries, if he had used his interview to highlight the plight of the Ebola stricken state and had called for a global concerted effort to tackle the outbreak. The damage the outbreak has already done to the Sierra Leone economy was of no interest to Dan Rivers. His mission was to embarrass the Head of State. As a Journalist, Rivers must have been well aware of the damage his report would do to country and president.  But Rivers could care less as that was the ultimate objective. The one thing that stands out of all this though, is the fact that Dan Rivers has made a name for himself in Africa. He has embarrassed British Journalism, and Foreign Journalists may never be trusted along the corridors of African power in the future. And Rivers may want to take a leaf off the book of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour who recently conducted a very professional and pleasant  interview with president Koroma. An interview that had respect for the head of state at the very center.

© 2014, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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