If you feel a news story does not measure up to expected journalistic standards, bring it to the Journalism Dry Cleaner. Through our collective wisdom, we will strip it of all offensive dirt.




Tuesday, 20 October 2009


A news report from Somalia captures the depth of lawlessness that has descended on that troubled land to unbelievable levels. Many media outlets were quick to pick up the story of Somali Islamists awarding the winners of a quiz they had organized, with prizes of AK-47 rifles, hand grenades and other ammunition.

When confronted with such a story, many a news editor will not hesitate to run with it, what with all its trappings of oddity and debased priorities in a conflict region? The focus and angle taken in most cases like this would dwell on the bizarre nature of the story, and milking it for its twisted amusement value, especially if the purveyors of such information are detached from the raging Somali civil strife.

But therein lies a problem. When covering such a problem, is it sufficient for the media to simply expose the story in its barest of elements? Isn't there a danger of news organizations, in all their global grandeur, being reduced to and steering their audiences towards becoming spectators at the theatre of human suffering?

Instead of appearing to entirely glorifying the warped reasoning of Al Shabab militants, what harm would have been done to the story, if some sober expert opinion, warning of the dangers of such competitions and their effect on escalating the insecurity in the region at large, was infused, even as a footnote?

Those weapons being dished out hapharzardly can eventually find their way to Nairobi's Eastleigh estate, becoming accessible to armed robbers and other criminally inclined people.

History and fate tend to judge harshly, those who see elements of entertainment, as their neighbour's house burns down. And in this context, one is best advised to think of the world as a global village.

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