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“Sending Liz Jones to report on Somalia is grotesque”

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Summary of story from The Guardian, August 1, 2011

Columnist Ros Coward writes scathingly in yesterday’s Guardian about the Mail on Sunday’s decision to send British journalist Liz Jones to cover the famine in Somalia.

“The most inappropriate journalist you could think of to cover the famine”, a “narcissistic fashion journalist”, a “lifelong anorexic” and a “confessional columnist who charts her obsessions” – these are just a few of the things Coward had to say about Jones.

She asks: “Isn’t it grotesque to send someone who represents the worst excesses of the western fashion industry’s obsession with dieting and appearance into situations where people are struggling to survive?”

Coward goes on to ask why the Mail overlooked its other female writers in Jones’ favour, writers such as Barbara Jones, whose articles are “well researched and powerful’.

Particularly galling as well is the fact that Liz Jones used the occasion of being sent to Somalia as an opportunity to berate the NHS for ‘not caring’.

Jones had apparently not visited an NHS doctor in twenty years but her private GP was unable to complete all the necessary vaccinations for her trip in time, forcing her to turn to her local GP’s surgery in Somerset.

However, she was told that they did not have any records for her and that the clinic was fully booked.

Jones used this week’s column in the Mail on Sunday to rant that the NHS’s problem was that they actually don’t care: “They follow the rules, they never put themselves out, they never look to the bigger picture.”

There are a number of websites dedicated to exposing Jones’ distortions (the crumbling house in Somerset she writes of is actually rather pleasant, and her current rock star beau may in fact be made up).

There is now even a spoof Twitter account charting “her” time in Somalia.

  1. I agree that sending Jones to cover a famine is hugely inappropriate, and I am no fan of her myself, but as I said on my twitter TL when I saw this piece earlier, I object to the Guardian’s aligning of anorexia and the “excess of the west’s dieting obsession” in the way that it has done. Not only is it minimising of anorexia and its sufferers, but it is also inaccurate to claim that anorexia is some sort of result of whimsy and petty vanity.

    The Guardian should know better than to frame anorexia in those terms (and it should also know better than to cite anorexia sufferers as the silly people who fall foul of what we know are deeply oppressive and pervasive beauty standards).

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