Somalia? Sri Lanka? “Good Luck” Finding Coverage

“Two recent situations show us exactly what the world will be like when there are no regular foreign correspondents left,” writes Andrew Stroehlein, communications director of the International Crisis Group and author of the Covering Crisis blog, for The Christian Science Monitor.

The first is Somalia, where Western news coverage, particularly in the United States, has been extraordinarily shallow during the past two decades. When attention returned to the crisis last month, it was because of the capture of a US vessel by Somali pirates. Amid hero-worship and chest-thumping, the American media machine seemed to swell with pride that a new president with the world’s largest military at his disposal could defeat a handful of lightly armed thugs…

Hardly any news outlets covered the difficult struggle of new Somali President Sheikh Sharif and his attempts to reach out to radicals, which give rise to some limited optimism.

And then there’s Sri Lanka.

[I]n the past few months, the situation in the north- east became desperate for some 200,000 civilians trapped in an ever-shrinking “safe zone” between their government, which has been shelling them, and the cultlike LTTE (Tamil Tiger) rebels, who have been using equally lethal force to prevent them from escaping.

A mass slaughter of civilians got under way as the Army’s noose gradually tightened around them. Yet, even as deaths reached into the thousands and those injured topped 10,000, and even when video was available of the tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives, few in the US even heard there was a problem.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.