Writing witness

Bad News

Anjan Sundaram, the mathematics-whiz-turned-journalist who wrote 2014’s amazing book Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo, is back with a book about his time training Rwandan journalists. In Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (Doubleday, $25.95), Sundaram describes his experiences with a program—approved by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is now trying to gut term limits so he can retain power—in which the reporters were to specifically cover government. But he learned that reporting anything “unofficial” was a recipe for harassment, beatings or imprisonment. And there were plenty of the sort of weird stories one finds in totalitarian governments as well (being told that the explosion he witnessed never happened, for instance). Sundaram is a gifted writer and this is a compelling story, which comes with an appendix of journalists who fell on the wrong side of Kagame’s regime.