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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

March 28, 2007

Arab Leaders Revive Middle East peace process

The story in the New York Times is about Suadi Arabia King Abdullah II's condemnation of United States' presence in Irag. The story quoted the king as saying that the daily violence Irag is the result of the United States' occupation of the country. “In our dear Iraq, the blood is spilling between our brothers in light of an illegitimate foreign occupation,? he said.

In the paragraph that followed the writer shifted from the Irag slant to the quest for Arab Unity. She told readers where the king spoke, and at occasion. During the openning of the two day Arab League Summit where Arab leaders are meeting to consider new proposals aimed at reviving negotiations between the Palestanin Authority and the state of Isreal.

The body gave readers more substantive information with relevant quotes about the Middle East peace process but does very littl to provide information in relation to the lead. This reporter should have stay on the violence in Iraq between the United States military and the insurgents. In a sense, the lead was not supported by the body of the story.

The news value of this story stemmed from the fact that Suadi Arabia is one of United States strong allies on the war on terror. It is a typical hard news story. It answered the elementary questions of what happened, where, when, why it happened and how it happned.

Perhaps focusing on the King's appeal for Arab unity in resolving the Middle east crisis would have improved the story a whole lot. I think quotes and attributions great. Read it at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/world/middleeast/29saudicnd.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

This Los Angeles Time version of this story was more focused. The entire story was based on the Middle East leaders to revive the peace negotiation between Isreal and the Palestininan Authority.

The writers used hourglass style in which they talked about the latest standoff between Britain and Iran over the seizure by Iran of 15 British sailors almost a week ago, the Iraq war, the Palestinian-Isrealis conflict.

There many opportuniies for improvement with this story. In the lead was problematic . gather to breathe new life ( met revive Middle east peace process seem better. "unprecedented regional tensions and threats to one of the world's most volatile regions," does not say anything to me. besides, whose opninon is this? A numblems pressing problems (how many were they? 2, 7 or 255? That was berbiage.

In paragraph three, the writers seem to imply that the summit was for a different purspose. I think the whole paragraph personal views rather than what happened or what they as reporters saw or were told. "But the festering conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, viewed by many as the wellspring for the region's rising Islamic radicalism, took center stage at the summit," said who?

On the whole, the story could as fair for people intersted in the Middle East peace process. I certainly will read this story only if I have the time. You can read the full story at the url bellow:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-arabs29mar29,0,7532362.story?coll=la-home-world

March 23, 2007

Explosions killed dozens in Mozambique

At leas 72 civilians were killed in Mozambique on Friday by obsolete ordinances at a military arsenal located near Maputo AllAfrica.com has reported. This was the third time explosions at the particular military base have occured each time killing more people. President Armando Guebuza promised on Friday that the military arsenal will be relocated at the cost of U.S $24 million.

Why did they allow this preventable loss to occur? This was complete irresponsibility on the part of the country's leadership. They knew since 1983 that the barrack contains tones of military hardwares that could explore at high temperature. Fifteen people died in two previous explosions between 1983 and early January. President Guebuza himself described the devastation as "serious, sad and worrying." He added "there are many bodies and explosive devices still to be removed".

With more than 370 wounded in hospitals, hundreds of live munitions scattered in residential areas, the country's international airport remained closed.

Although not writing for western media, the story answer the conventional what, when where, why and how news elements. The lead could be better with the verb said (or announced) instead of promised. There was no date mentioned for the promised relocation of military barrack. The reporter should have asked for that information? Besides building credibility, It could bring relief to the affected residents and those living near the area.

Another problem with the story was the fact that all those quoted were from the government. No comment (s) from victims. Atleast a quote from an opposition leader would have given much credibility to the story. This leave a big question: Can I trust the government account? On the plus side, all the quotes and attributions were done professionally. Read it at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200703230919.html

The same story was Associated Press with less official slant. For example, AP said "Several thousand people spent the night on the streets in downtown Maputo, unable to return to their homes in the poor neighbourhood near the ammunitions depot, which was sealed off by police."

AP also gave a good background by telling the readers that Mozambique, an impoverished southern African country still recovering from a long civil war, has been battered by natural disasters this year. Consider this vivid description: At the height of the inferno, some city centre windows were shattered by the intense heat.

Buildings also shook with the impact of the explosions. Cominng from the war-torn Liberia, I can see the frightened population running, some wounded, some dying without much help. This was a combination of panic and chaos.

But this AP story does not mention the promised relocation of the national armoury used to store weapons. To read this story go to : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070323.wmozambique0323/BNStory/International/home

March 21, 2007

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN SOMALIA AGAIN

An Associated Press story in the Los Angeles Times reported renewed violence in the Somalia that killed 20 on Wednesday including 7 government soldiers, but Reuters report shows more professionalism and credibility.

Right in the second paragraph the reporter linked the violence to the gruesome scene of 1993 when a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter in Mogadishu crashed during a military mission in the East Africanstate killed 18 American servicemen.

Although this violence is taking place in East Africa, the death of 18 Americans in Mogadishu in 1993 could argubly make proximity the prime news value here.

In fact this angle was further explored by AP when it linked the Islamic union, accused by the U.S. of having links to Al Qaeda. The Islamic union forces were driven out of Mogadishu in Decembe by Ethiopian forces. According to AP the Islamic union fighters have moved underground and are now attempting to launch an insurgency against the government. This information is not attributed to any source.

on the whole the AP writer could do better with attributing information for credibility. For example, "Amid near-daily mortar attacks and shoot-outs on the streets of Mogadishu, residents complain violence is the worst it has been in years, despite the presence of several thousand Ethiopian and African Union troops to assist the weak transitional government." Is the AP implying that residents in Magadishu said the current violence is the worst they have seen in years? I think the reporter is the story.

The quotes by Michael Ranneberger, U.S. ambassador to Kenya who also oversees Somalia do not make sense. First, he condemned the desecration of bodies said to those soldiers from Ethiopia as "horrendous," while he insisted that Somalia is making progress. "We do feel on the balance that the situation in Somalia is moving forward in a generally positive way," said Ranneberger. Both Lon Angeles Times and Reuters used the hourglass style. There are problems with objectivity, accuracy and ethical issues with this LA Times story.

One important note about this story is the date line is NAIROBI. How the reporter get to quote residents in Somalia? Was AP lifting information local news sources? It seem likely to me. Is that professional journalism?

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-somalia22mar22,1,5346647.story?coll=la-headlines-wor

The same story by the Reuters wire service was handled in better. The first thing about Reuters story is that the reporter was in Mogadishu where the fighting happened. Reuters quoted witnesses on the witnesses about the corpses of five soldiers -- either from the Somali government army or their Ethiopian allies -- were desecrated during some of the worst clashes in the lawless capital since the interim government took over in December.

Reuters devoted at least seven paragragps to the desecration of the bodies five soldiers by insurgents. Los Angeles Times said seven dodies. "I have never seen or experienced the kind of fighting that I saw today. People were running in all directions. I saw an old man die in front of me," the reporter quoted Faduma Elmi, 80.
The imageries in this story are more convincing than those in the Los Angeles Times.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKL2136851920070321?pageNumber=3

February 27, 2007

BOSNIANS PROTEST GENOCIDE VERDICT

This story in Europe News is about the International Court of Justice ruling on Tuesday Feb 28 2007 that Serbia was not guilty of alleged genocide against Bosnia Hercegovena.

The reporter picked the angle of the bosnians' reaction to the case in which Bosnia-Herzegovina sued former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for genocide allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 war.

But ICJ essentially ruled that Serbia, as a state, could not be held accountable for genocide because available evidence was insufficient to prove that although the Court found that Bosnia could have prevented the killing in Srebrenica where some 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men were killed.

There are things the reporter could do to improve the story. First, the lead was too long and confusing. There was no need for the names and position in the lead. Also, one or the court finds an accused guilty not declare him/her quilty. There were more than two angles of the story: Bosnia's next plan and the people's reaction to the verdict. Then there are protesters calling for compensation and constitutional changes (why? he did not address). These theme could be treated separately

The reporter said little about the Court or its opinion. The reporter readers that the protesters said ICJ "Neglected the fact that some 100,000 people were killed across Bosnia-Herzegovina." There is response from the Court about charge. Another problem with this story was the sources: "According to protesters, the court neglected the fact that some 100,000 people were killed across Bosnia-Herzegovina, including nearly 17,000 children. In Bosnia's capital Sarajevo, they said, more than 10,000 people were killed, including more than 1,600 children. " How does one know that these are verifiable facts? I would use these facts only if they were from the ICJ records or the current government not from protesters. A careful and professional reporter using an hourglass format could do a good work with this global news. I don't think this is an example of good journalism. See this piece at: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1270156.php/Bosnians_protest_verdict_exonerating_Serbia_of_genocide__Roundup_

The same story in The Globe and Mail revceived far better journalistic treament. The reporter to pain to interviewed the Serbian President Boris Tadic and Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief on the Court ruling.
As readers we can read what the verdict said. "In the 171-page ruling, the court was unambiguous in its declaration that genocide had occurred at the United Nations-protected Srebrenica enclave and that during the 1992-95 conflict, "Bosnian Muslims were systematically victims of massive mistreatment, beatings, rape and torture causing serious bodily and mental harm." But it rejected Bosnia's assertion that Serbia was responsible and that its intent was to wipe out Bosnian Muslims.

There were other important quotes from experts on this ruling means. Everything that the first reporter failed to do, the second reporter accomplished. An axcellent example of hourglass style. See this story at:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070227.COURTS27/TPStory/TPInternational/Europe/



February 5, 2007

U.S: 4 Chopter Losses Due To Ground Fire

The story is about the US military helicopter losses in Irag since Jan. 20. The reporter faced many challenges in writing this story. The lead could be written better. There were many passive verbs, independent clauses and unnecessary words. This makes the story confusing. First, the reporter ended the story in five short paragraphs without any information. It would have been nice to know the number of chopters lost in Irag and the number of deaths associated with these chrashes since the war began. How many US soldiers died in the four chrashes? The story did not say.

Then the reporter picked the real story. The bomb explosion that killed more than 137 people in a Baghdad market on Sunday. We find this information in the sixth paragraph. I would report these events separately to avoid confusion.

The lead: "The four U.S. helicopters that have chrashed in Irag since Jan. 20 were apparantly shot down, the chief military spokeman said Sunday - the first time the U.S command has publicly acknowledged that the aircraft were lost to enemy fire." Since lead tells what happens or basic news saying: "Four U.S holicopters shot down in Irag by enemy fire since Jan.20 military spokeman said on Sunday, seems best.
Lacking good grammar, proper AP style, quotations use, were other challenges faced by the writer. Examples. "In the aftermath of the worst single bomb attack in Irag since the start of the war -137 people killed in a suicide truck bombing on shiite market - stunend Irags picked through the rubbles of devasted buildings and loaded coffins onto minivans." The reporter'sjob was to say what happened. 137 people killed in a single suicide bomb. Also, there was no attribution. That makes me to ask, did the reporter personally count the bodies and the wounded cited?

The reporter wrote about "devastated buildings and loaded coffins onto minivans." This is emotion. In the 8th paragraph for instance, the writer said "Bandaged women, children and men filled hospital beds, while several bloodied bodies were piled ontoblankets on the floor of the mosque which was filled to capacity." 9th paragraph: "The blast shaved the nearby buildings." The blast shaved? Reporting a story like this demands a balance between emotions and facts.
To read this story, visit http//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070204/ap_on_re_mi_ea/irag

The same AP story in the Boston Globe was handled very well. The reporter dealt with one story idea. The lead was great, the AP style was followed in every step of the way. Althoug the Lead was long, the reporter dealt very well the new changes ordered by the US military after four copters were shot down by enemy fire. Attribution and quotations were applied according to AP style. I think this was a piece someone like me can easily learn from. I could see many concepts am learning in news writing- Journalism 3101.

Read it http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/02/05/us_changes_tactics_after_iraq_copter_attacks/