He points to two recent cases picked up by the media in Cambodia, where he is based, and references one organization which was accused of faking such stories “again,” and another where an “orphanage” staged an auction of children’s photos, having the children present them “to heighten audience pity, and thus, sales.” These kinds of actions by aid organizations re-victimize children.
He writes that the “primary role [of child protection agencies] is to protect these children from abuse and re-abuse and to build children’s futures. This often means giving them a clean slate, erasing the negative past, and not making it an ongoing reality…. Mainstream media needs to report on situations, yet it needs sensationalism to feed the public, secure high audience ratings, and attract advertisers. To easily achieve this, it is tempting to use the most emotionally charged visuals and stories. What better than a suffering child? Even better—from their point of view—is if the child is suffering or crying while telling about her or his ordeal.”
With “storytelling” all the rage, Marot finds that the search for an emotionally resonant story can result in deception that changes lives and historical narratives.