When Deputy Managing Editor Jeremy Weber arrived in central Nigeria in June to report on escalating attacks against Christians in the region, he was welcomed by the leader of a denomination with more than a thousand members who have lost homes to the violence.
“It is very encouraging that you are here,” Dachollom Datiri told Weber for our cover story. “Our stories are not heard.”
The phrasing seemed deliberate. Christian leaders in this region of Nigeria know that the world’s media have covered their plight. They just don’t think anyone’s listening.
CT has long covered Christian-Muslim conflicts in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa’s Sahel region, as have other Christian media. But true to the old journalism adage “show, don’t tell,” there is a world of difference between publishing an update about disaster and taking precious time to sit in it for a while and transport readers into its jaws. In his reporting, Weber visited a dozen communities in Nigeria across four states, interviewing leaders and survivors of attacks. What he offered beleaguered Nigerian Christians was the gift of presence. And what he offers readers is a heart-wrenching portrait of a church under siege and a years-long conflict that is still not well understood by most of the world.
News coverage of persecution stories—and of large-scale tragedy in general—can blur together. It can even feel formulaic, with identical casts of characters, only set in differing scenes. We chose to give special attention to the crisis facing many Nigerian Christians because it seems to merit more than a forgettable passing reference. As one leader told Weber, if sectarian violence pushes Nigeria ...1