The columnist finds himself at the center of a larger conversation about covering the continent's handful of problem spots versus its larger success story.
New York Times columnist Nick Kristof takes a lot of grief. The two-time Pulitzer winner is well known for his coverage of sub-Saharan Africa and humanitarian issues, but some of his strongest critics tend to be NGO workers, academics, or fellow writers who work in Africa, or are themselves African. They tend to say that he over-emphasizes Africa's problems, reinforcing Western stereotypes that Africa is a place of poverty and suffering, and criticize his habit of telling African stories by profiling the white do-gooders he called "bridge characters."
Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole, for example, included Kristof's work, along with the much-criticized Kony 2012 campaign, in his White Savior Industrial Complex. "Kristof is best known for his regular column in the New York Times in which he often gives accounts of his activism or that of other Westerners," Cole wrote. "His good heart does not always allow him to think constellationally. He does not connect the dots or see the patterns of power behind the isolated 'disasters.' All he sees are hungry mouths, and he, in his own advocacy-by-journalism way, is putting food in those mouths as fast as he can. All he sees is need, and he sees no need to reason out the need for the need."