USA

July 4, 2007 by  
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It’s been a long time since I blogged any international events, but this one was enough to shock me out of my reverie.

Some African Union (AU) member states want to unite the entire continent – a United States of Africa, if you will.

SBS – WORLD NEWS AUSTRALIA

Many Africans regard this as an unrealistic, if noble, dream. Sceptics point to decades of wars, coups and massacres that often sprang from ethnic and religious fault lines on a continent artificially carved up by former colonial rulers.

You could also argue uniting the continent would remove those artificial lines created by arbitrary colonial division, and reduce the chance for ethnic and religious conflict. But only if the united ‘states’ of Africa are not the states as we know them now.

If the same states remained the resulting union would only be as peaceful as the other continental union if it followed their same pattern – radical integration deterring conflict. In the case of the European Union, economic integration has worked. In Africa there’s not a lot of economy to share around and prosper in, so they might have to go with what the EU has shied away from, political integration.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is one of the main proponents of the idea.

April 30, 2004 by  
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I liked this article . Probably only of interest to the journalists. It’s about the lack of media reporting on humanitarian disasters, but particularly ‘genocide’.

The international media don’t send reporters to cover genocides, it seems. They cover genocide anniversaries.

I was making brief, passing mention to this in another post. That had more to do with media pushing for intervention in Bosnia (white genocide) while largely ignoring Rwanda (black genocide).

Do we have to change the gatekeepers (editors who decide what prints) if these events are to make it past the cutting floor? If that’s what has to be done, how can we change the gatekeepers? If we can’t change the gatekeepers, then what? How do we get the story out, let the world know what’s going on?

Serious questions. It really does bother me.

April 16, 2004 by  
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Well, it turns out I am spending more time designing the blog than actually writing in it. Not only that, but also more time than studying… I’ve already designed a new template that I’m in the process of fine-tuning, but you can link to it here to see what’s going on, or from the ‘other blogs’ links… I like it so far, and the front page headline will be a self-fulfilling prophesy if I don’t give up this nonsense of designing pages.. it IS addictive though. I have an assignment (2 actually) due Monday so I should probably give this up for the weekend and focus on those…

But anyway, I was going to write about last week’s ‘Editor’ section.

Last Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan massacre. Anyone who has any interest in international relations or news would know this and know the issues relating to it. However, there were two particular points in the editorial that drew my attention – both are quotes (pg22WeekendAustralian10/4/04):

Samantha Power of the Los Angeles Times
“editorial writers at the major newspapers who pushed for intervention in Bosnia made no such appeals on behalf of the Rwandans”.
Joshua Hammer in The New York Republic
‘Self denial continues to this day among the perpetrators…”After a decade of self-delusion and historical amnesia, most Rwandan Hutu still insist that no genocide took place.” Instead, Hammer wrote, they believe “Hutu and Tutsi were killed in equal numbers in a civil war”.

1. When you start to talk about advocacy journalism, do you ‘pull’ for the argument you agree with, support, are sympathetic to? Of course, you wouldn’t ‘advocate’ it if you didn’t see the merit of doing so. But there are thousands of stories/issues out there that deserve to be told, even if the media doesn’t want to tell them, and especially if their reasoning is a lack of personal zeal for the issue.

I’ve just started this blog, so I can tell you who don’t know that I’d like to work as a foreign correspondent at some point. As Bruce says, “Dave wants to go to bodgy countries.” It’s not that I necessarily want to put my life on the line, dodge bullets or get kidnapped, burnt or mutilated, but there are stories to be told that people need to know about. I can only pray I work at that time for an organisation/agency that feels the same way about telling those stories. What made me think this a little more was seeing a documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey. Some of the images were, really, the type you just don’t want to look at, don’t want to think about. I can tell people now I don’t want to be a foreign correspondent in ‘bodgy places’ because I enjoy seeing the carnage, or for the excitement or thrill… I really don’t want to see those things, but someone has to if it’s going to be reported…

2. The second quote is a scary reality, of not so much people refusing to accept responsibility, but of actually believing nothing untoward has taken place. This is applicable also to the feeling of a vast majority of Serbs in their feelings towards Kosovo and what happened in ’98/99…

This by David Brown (2000:167) –

“Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo were fully trapped within these two hegemonic ideologies…To each side, the behaviour of the other side was inhuman. The ideological myths of each side seemed to be merely common sense. That is the tragedy of nationalistic conflict.”

And I agree it’s not just Serbs. Kosovar Albanians are equally at fault if they believe all KLA actions are acceptable, especially those undertaken against Kosovar Serb civilians after NATO bombing drove Serb forces out of the region. Both sides have committed atrocities… I was actually told by a Serb, “what you are presented as ‘Serbian crimes’ by the…media merely comes in consequence of centuries long hatred of both nations”…as if that makes it acceptable…?!

“When will people get over it?”, I ask in my comfort zone of never having gone through a war or large-scale loss as a result. The media, given their huge influence on what people think to be the truth of what is ‘happening’ or the issues surrounding an event, should play one of the most prominent roles in promoting good will between people and breaking down barriers of mistrust and prejudice. Unfortunately the Serb I quoted works for a media organisation in Belgrade…and there seems to still be large support for radical/nationalist parties in Serbia.

So I’m back to where I started…advocacy journalism. If you write/broadcast for the issues which are close to your heart, you leave yourself open to becoming too subjective – even to the point of departure from the truth, God forbid. May we all expose ourselves to enough facts to not be bogged down by one argument, to not be too parochial… That’s not just a statement for journalists either, but everyone. So journalists – print the facts aye? We all rely on them to make informed decisions.

Just a few stats from ‘Iraq Inquest’, a story (The Australian April 8 pg 20) based on extracts from Peter Wilson’s book ‘Long Drive Through A Short War. There’s another extract online as well if you’re interested. The stats are about journalists deaths in Iraq.

  • in the space of six hours US forces hit every foreign media building in Baghdad – Al Jazeera Arabic TV, Abu Dhabi offices and the Palestine Hotel, where foreign media not embedded with US army units were housed
  • Of the 14 journalists who died between March 20 and April 9, 2003, only four were ’embeds’
  • 16 of the 21 media workers killed by the end of 2003 were unilaterals and only five were embeds
  • of the 14 Western journalists killed during the war (in 2003), just two were killed by Saddam’s forces, five from “neutral causes” and seven by the coalition.

This is enough for now…It’s very late, or rather very early… hmmmm, so much to talk about…some day some day. my apologies for the rambling, disjointed discourse and possible lack of a point….