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May 6, 2007

95 Iraqis and 8 U.S. soldiers killed in roadside bombs

Summary: the AP reports said eight American soldiers, 95 Iraqis including 12 policemen and a journalist were killed in Iraq on Sunday. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18515265/ The story written in an inverted pyramid form began with the most important events moved in a descending order to the less important. All the deaths were caused by roadside bombs AP quoted Iraqis police.

Sunday deaths raised American casualties to at least 3,373 since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press.

There were few opportunities for improvement in this report as the reporter did an excellent job given the environment under which the story was written. I comment the reporter for attributing the facts and other pertinent information in the story to either Iraqis or U.S. military officials.

He must be commended for emphasizing the Iraqis casualty right in the lead and the second paragraph. This brought me to a pause because most stories from by American Journalists often focused heavily on the U.S. losses with few words devoted to hundreds of Iraqis killed every day.

The same story appeared in the Daily Times of Pakistan with a different slant. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C05%5C07%5Cstory_7-5-2007_pg7_23 The marked different between the two stories was that Daily Times’ account carried quotes by bystanders and a deputy governor of the province hit by the attacks. Thus, daily Times brought in the ordinary humans’ side of the story compare to the often scripted official positions

Hamas rejects U.S. plan for peace with Israel

Reuters news agency reported that latest efforts by the United States to restart peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel were rejected by Hamas, a militant organization that leads a unity government. Israel also said there were serious problems with the plan. On the other hand palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he would work for the implementation of the latest plan, clearly showing split between the two main faction leaders
of Hamas and Fatah organizations.

A hard news story, the writer did an excellent job presenting views/quotes from all the three parties involed - Israel, Hamas and the Fatah's officials. Very good job in meeting the principles of fairness and attribution. Read this story at:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUKL06651800._CH_.242020070506

The AP''s account of the same story has some problems. The lead was too wordy and confusing for ordinary readers not familiar with the Israelis Palestinian conflict.
While the lead implied that Hamas has rejected latest plan to pursue peace, the writer did not say anything about this rejection until in the 10th paragraph. Instead, the writer focused on the new threat by hamas to attack Israel with rockets. Eight paragraps were devoted to to this new threat.

Using the hourglass style, the writer had enough opportunity to give readers the immediate event before delving into other important facts or development. That opportunity was missed. A critical reader could also could also see the writer's bias for the Hamas. he same to have contrated on the point that Hamas was responsible for the violence against Isreal without any just cause. That unstated position rendered this AP account not balanced.
The challenges this writer face were: 1} Reporting the news as it a happend in a clear and unbiased way. That is, tell readers about the latest efforts by U.S. to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 2) Report on the new threat issued by the Hamas. Besides, Hamas is only part of the whole when discussing the Israelis-Palestinian crisis.

The AP writer's emphasis on Israel's security same to suggest that the Palestanians search for independent was less important than Israel security. Read it at:
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/06/africa/ME-GEN-Israel-Palestinians.php

Bad journalism - hope for survivors of boat disaster fades

This AP story talked about the worse boat distaster to hit Haitian migrants trying to flee their country due to poor living conditions. The story reported that U.S. Coast Guard ended efforts to find 40 missing Haitians after Wednesday disaster in which 36 migrants died after a boat they were on capzised with 160 passengers. The accident happened on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Local authorities on the Turks and Caicos Islands, however, were continuing the search a day after the deadliest maritime disaster to befall Haitian migrants in years.

This was a hard news written in an inverted pyramid style. There were very little room for improvement because the writer did an excellent job. It was balanced, and all attributions and quotes were done in a professional maner.
Read this story at:
http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/World/2007/05/06/4157669-sun.html

The same story by Reuters was very confusing and poorly constructed. The lead said; "A sailing boat packed with up to 150 Haitian migrants capsized while it was being towed by a police vessel from the Turks and Caicos on Friday, and the U.S. Coast Guard said 20 people had died while another 58 were missing." This lead suggests that this disaster was a result of police action.

In the second paragraph, the Reuters said the vessel 'flipped oveer," making it to seem that indeed that this accident could be avoided if police had intercepted the boat. To the contrary, the AP story indicated that the boat capzided as a result of strong storm it encountered.

The only useful information Reuters provided readers was the number of migrants the U.S. Coast Guard has rescued so far in 2007: 909. Everything else reported by the Reuters was either inaccurate or confusing. For instance it said 20 died and 58 were missing. AP discounted that.

I think part of the challenge the Reuters reporter faced was sitting in Miami to file a story that occurred hundreds of miles away. It was better not have even attempted. It was a disservice to goog journalism. Read this piece at:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKN0426466620070505

Democrats, Bush remain far apart on Iraq funding

Summary: This Reuters story looks at the latest efforts by both Democrats and the White House to find a compromise on how the handle the U.S policy in Iraq. It also showed a divide between the Democratic-controlled Congress and President George Bush on Iraq.

At issue, is the president's request for a funding bill without withdrawal time table for American troops in Iraq. Democrats on the other hand agree to fund thw war but with conditions attached.

The story was well balanced with quotes by President Bush and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

The challenge/opportunities the writer face wass to steer clear of infusing opinion disguised as interpretative analysis. Clearly the basic thing for reporter was to report the facts and leave the readers that job. I think that
paragraps two, six and seven were opinions since readers were not told where these comments came from. Information contained in these paragraphs were not attributed to any one, polls or institutions. Without them the story will still strong. You can read this story at:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/WireStory?id=3143709&page=2

The same story by AP appeared in the Boston Globe.
The lead was great and quite to the point, compared to the Reuters version in the ABC. Also this story was without comments and carried a great sense of what is news.

While the Reuters story focused on a search for compromise and difficulties face by both parties in getting funds for the troops the AP story focused the president latest call for a prompt bill.
AP story was also great at giving each side a fair chance to make its position known.

The writer could have pressed Bush and Schumer if they would be willing to compromise. That would have made more news instead of basically telling readers what they already know. Read this story.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/05/05/bush_urges_prompt_war_funding_bill/

May 5, 2007

My Journalistic Mission

For centuries the tradional mission of journalists has been to inform, educate and entertain. This mission has changed or expanded over the years as technology has taken journalists to a completely new age. Information technology. Journalists have increasingly made government officials to be accountable and responsible to their citizens. But this role varies from developed ton developing societies.

For journalists in the developing world continue to face myriad of difficulties some these challenges. Lack of better training institutions, lack of technology and democratic governmenst are some of the huge difficulties these third world journalists are face with.

But globalization and by convergence of information tecnology has provided hope. Today, cell phone, internet are can be found in the remotest part of the world where users in those parts of the globe can get in touch with people and read what events took place in the U>S, Britain, France Japan etc.

This brings me to my role as journalist from a developing country. I have a responsibility tell story. This story has been told already by many outsiders. The story of Africa has been told but in a way the storytellers chose. This story is largely onesided.
Often, stories from my continent only addressed what happened. The how and why components are left uutouched. For instance, in the United States, the image of Africa is one of decease, violence, corruption and civil wars. Western journalists barely take time to go beyond the events to understand the causes or origins of these problems.

The point is, while it is true that parts of Africa experience these problems, the Western media establishments have completely ignored the good side of Africa.

I believe that with proper training and understanding the mentality of the West, one can make a meaningful contribution to reshape Africa's image. This will be my journalist mission.

May 4, 2007

Sen.Clinton seeks new way to withdraw U.S. Troops

Summary: This story appeared in the New York Times in which presidential contender Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) proposed a bill to reverse the war authority granted the president ito invade Iraq. The proposal came days after President Bush vitoed a $124 billion emergency spending bill for troops in Iraq that linked the funds to a time table for withdrawal.

The story, was unsually long but was written in a way that makes readers to read it to the end. The writer, in a very professional and clever way presented views from Democrats and Republicans. Hourglass style was effectively used.
opportunities: The story did make it clear whether or not President could vitoe the proposed legislation if it passed the Democrat-controlled Congress.A comment from President Bush could have gone a long way in balancing the story. Read it at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/washington/04cong.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1178308971-YyUaHjkkR98DHk8VNYkvKQ

The same story was found in The California Majority Report but in the form a statement. This version offered a shorter narrative and readers the chance to read what exactly Sen. Clinton said. Read it at the url below:

http://www.camajorityreport.com/index.php?module=articles&func=display&aid=1819&ptid=9