Yesterday, I grumbled that American newspapers like the Washington
Post cover the
After I wrote that post, I realized that I left out an important qualification. American journalists often do write about the citizens of countries wracked by internal war. The content of these articles, while sympathetic to the subject, are largely useless.
It’s hard to speak of these articles in the plural, since they amount to re-wordings of the same story. Here is that Ur-article, presented in the “fill-in-the-blank” format that I can neither confirm nor deny reporters actually use:
___________ has lived in the village of ___________ for all [his/her] life. That was, until war came to the village. Today, ___________ lives in [a refugee camp/fear].
“I don’t know where I’ll go, or what I’ll do,” ______________ said, clutching his ___________, a treasured keepsake. “Nowhere is safe.”
___________ story is all too familiar, in this war that has claimed over ___________ lives. With the failure of negotiations between ___________ and ___________, there is no end to the violence in sight.
Still, ___________ clings to hope. “Every day I pray for peace,” [he/she] said. "It’s all I can do."
What’s wrong with that? At the very least, this kind of reporting draws attention to the conflicts themselves. Unfortunately, that’s usually where the information stops.
After arousing sympathy and horror, the next step should be a description of how these tragic circumstances came to be. Who’s fighting, and why? What is the current state of the war? How is the conflict likely to unfold? Is there anything the reader, or the reader’s elected officials, can do to nudge these events towards an end to the suffering of people like [fill in the blank]?
That’s why I spoke highly of Digital Diplomat’s post about
the rivalry among Shi’ite factions in
Iraq, including SCIRI, the Army of
the Mahdi, and the Shi’ite dominated government. It’s also why many foreign
news sources do a better job of covering the wars in
No one deserves a Pulitzer for going to