Byline: Angelina Jolie?

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Angelina Jolie, the famous film star, adoptive mom, and UN Goodwill Ambassador, has a new title to add to her resume: journalist. Or at least, that’s what the Washington Post seems to think. Ms. Jolie recently penned an op-ed for the Post about her work in Darfur.

The first thing that struck me was, why is a celebrity writing on Darfur? Doesn’t WaPo have actual, trained reporters to do those kinds of things? I trust the Washington Post because I assume its writers are well-versed in their fields and have years of experience writing for the media. Having celebs—and I’m sorry, but that’s what Angelina Jolie is—write may boost your circulation, but it just furthers the trend, seen on News Wars, of media outlets pushing themselves as entertainment, rather than reliable sources of information.

Speaking of reporting, even though Angelina is a UN Goodwill Ambassador, she can’t get into Sudan. A camp in eastern Chad is as close as she can get, the UNHCR told her, because aid workers are increasingly at risk of attack. However, Ms. Jolie did talk to some refugees who asked for better accommodations and war crimes trials for the men who raped, tortured, and killed their families.

“Accountability is a powerful force,” Ms. Jolie wrote. “It has the potential to change behavior — to check aggression by those who are used to acting with impunity. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has said that genocide is not a crime of passion; it is a calculated offense. He’s right. When crimes against humanity are punished consistently and severely, the killers’ calculus will change.”

The writing sounds more fit for a rubber-chicken fund-raiser dinner than for the Washington Post, but all snarkiness aside, it is brave of Ms. Jolie to leave the sheltered, pampered world of Hollywood and schlep all the way to Africa to witness the aftermath of a violent genocide. And it is admirable that she is working hard to bring awareness to the issue. More than that, it’s sad that it takes a movie star to shine a light on the situation. Peace treaties, as Angelina points out, have repeatedly failed. If Angelina, the Tomb Raider, can’t make our government sit up and take action, who can?

–Jen Phillips

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