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U.S. Official goes to Somalia

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer visited Somalia this week, only six days after a weak cease fire was enacted. Violence once again erupted in the country while the interim government still struggles for control. The area has been plagued with unrest and violence since the toppling of their government in 1992.

The AP picked up on this story, the version written by Salad Duhul appearing in many American papers. Al Jazeera also reported on the story with an article on their website.

The AP version uses the U.S.-centric view--the news is that our official visited there. The recent events are background information. They also give background on U.S. involvement in the past--referring to the Black Hawk helicopter incident. This makes sense as the audience for this piece is an American one, and they would be most concerned about U.S. interests. The article also links Somalia with terrorism, condemning the violence because it provides an atmosphere where terrorism can thrive.

The Al Jazeera version focuses more on placing this issue in the world context. They focus on the official saying that she wants to raise the consciousness of this issue in the world as a whole. There is no mention of U.S. involvement. They also picked up on the terrorist angle, though not spending as much time on it. Instead, they included fears about war crimes by the Ethiopian and Somali governments. Both regimes are supported by the U.S. They ended with a few paragraphs about a reconciliation conference.

I found it helpful to read both of these articles. The AP version was too U.S. centric and I missed out on some of the related issues, like the war crimes issue and the reconciliation conference. The Al Jazeera article didn’t make it clear why this official in this country was such a big deal, why it was newsworthy.


This news story covered the recent visit of U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs. The first by an American official in 15 years.
No doubt, this development has the element of news worthiness for both the American and other media outlets. However the interest of the America was reported from two opposing news organisations - AP and Aljazeera.

Stephanie Dickrell's analysis about the news story in Somalia was an excellent piece of work by a student. your ability to focus on what is important and news worthy is commendable.

I found this analysis particularly interesting when she pointed out what U. S. media thought was news worthy. In this case the arrival of an American official in Somalia. Of course the number of dead in the six days street fighting between the U.S.-back interim government forces and the Ethiopian troops was presented with less enthusiasm. Excellent job, Stephanie.

I found there were opportinities to improve the stories.The Phrase "Called off" in the AP's account for example, meant "cancelled."

I found that an important observation was left out. That is, both versions did not mention the fact that the U. S assisant secretary of state for African affairs Jendayi Frazer had no contact with the islamists. More than 1,000 people have so far been killed in Somalia since fighting began early this month.

I would have emphasized United States' possible involvement with possble war crimes given its support for the interim government and the Ethiopian troops with the information from the Eurpean Union. I think that the warning by the European envoy of possble war crimes been committed in the recent fighting was down played by Western media establishments. Did it prompt the U.S. visit?