End the Substandard and Racist Journalism on Africa

On April 5, 2011, Motherboad.tv published Thomas Morton's fallacious article/"documentary", "The Sakawa Boys: Inside the Bizarre Criminal World of Ghana’s Cyber-Juju Email Scam Gangs". The next day, CNN online highlighted the piece, under the title "Inside the criminal world of Ghana's e-mail scam gangs", as a "unique approach [to journalism] worth sharing." The CNN editor's note further described the article as reflective of "a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process." As a serious news source, CNN should be ashamed of its praise of Morton's work. Certainly, there is nothing unique or transparent about a racist and demeaning third-rate form of journalism that essentializes Ghanaians as impoverished water sellers or "juju" practicing scammers. It is puzzling that an established news source like CNN would ever consider such substandard journalism as worth sharing with its readers. Ninety-nine percent of Ghanaians do not sell water on the street, there is no such thing as "African standards", and sakawa is not "a full blown national phenomenon" that is the "most popular youth activity". These aren't facts; these are fictional statements and statistics by a reckless White American "journalist" whose reporting effectively mocks the serious post-colonial struggles of Ghanaian people such as low employment opportunities, poverty, and environmental destruction like those caused by Western electronic waste dumping in Agbogbloshie. This type of journalism is irresponsible and should not be given any platform for exposure. We, the undersigned, demand that CNN and Motherboard.tv: 1) Remove Thomas Morton's article/documentary from their websites. 2) Release an apology to its readers for publishing and highlighting such an inaccurate, racist, and substandard form of journalism. In the future, we hope that the editors at CNN and Motherboard.tv apply more rigorous standards to the work they publish. It is simply their ethical and professional duty to do so.

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