I didn’t know 200 Nigerian girls were forced out of their beds on the eve of school exams. I had no knowledge their school was ransacked by militants and burned to ash. And I wasn’t aware the girls were kidnapped and sold for $12 as wives to neighboring militants in other countries. Did you? Or like me, you learned about these details from a picture making its rounds on Instagram and Twitter, take a look below.
The caption may tell the story, but the image is worth more than any word(s) a dictionary can offer. But, I’ll give it a shot. A midnight-skinned girl with wide, almond-shaped eyes looks out at us longingly as if asking, “where are you?” Her bangle-strewn arms are spread on a platform concealing her mouth, as a single tear falls on her cheek. This picture has told me more about this heartbreaking encounter than any New York Times article or segment on NBC Nightly News. And it’s a good thing, since we heard nada from those “top” news orgs. In fact, this week was when I started seeing coverage from mainstream news outlets, for a story that occurred in mid-April. However, our cups runneth over on their waterfall news stories about Syria, Ukraine, the missing Malaysia airline, and the shiny new story on the block: NBA commissioner David Silver’s sanctions against Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rants.
Granted, those stories are necessary and worth reporting. But is their value worth the marathon coverage that is given? Is the Malaysia airline really more important than a teenage Nigerian girl escaping her captors alongside her friends, and 40 of her classmates? Is a racist millionaire banned from visiting an arena more significant than a radical militant group slaughtering young men and women for going to school in northeastern Nigeria?
This story has all the elements for blanket news coverage. Only one problem. Location, location, location. That’s right, if it happened anywhere else, this would be the world’s biggest story. It already was. Remember, just last year the reports of 45 Syrian woman and children kidnapped on a bus by insurgents. Of course, you do because CNN, LA Times, New York Times, BBC, etc. covered it when it was happening.
Now. This. Has. Happened. And it deserves more than #bringbackourgirls on Twitter and Instagram.