Best Stories on Afghanistan | Election News Hunt Results
Here are early results of our Election News Hunt -- along with some of the best stories from last week's Afghanistan News Hunt. We're also pleased to introduce our new team member, Assistant Editor Derek Hawkins, who wrote this report. Welcome aboard, Derek! -- Fabrice and the NewsTrust Team
Best Stories on Afghanistan
Last week's featured topic on NewsTrust was the war in Afghanistan. Called "America's forgotten war" by some media critics, it is an elusive topic. Even with violence and U.S. troop deaths on the rise in the past month, media coverage of Afghanistan remains low. However, using the NewsTrust review tool, our community unearthed some great journalism on this topic from a variety of American and international news outlets. Here's a sampling of the best stories:
Al-Qaeda's Growing Online Offensive – Washington Post
Is Al Qa'ida in pieces? – The New Republic
Marines Try to Improve Image in Taliban Stronghold – National Public Radio
In Afghan police training, US aims to curb corruption – Boston Globe
Year of the Taliban – LinkTV
Crisis in Pakistan-US relations – The News International
Warlord: My encounter with Taliban mastermind – The Independent
Managing Pakistan-U.S. relations – The Hindu
Afghanistan: Legality Of 'Hot Pursuit' Into Pakistan Debated – Radio Free Europe
After an assault by the Taliban on a prison in Kandahar in mid June, news reports of the insurgent group’s reemergence were among our top rated stories from Afghanistan. LinkTV aired an overview of the Afghan and Pakistani governments’ struggle to contain the Taliban, which drew positive feedback from several reviewers, including Elizabeth Reynolds. She said:
LinkTV and Reporter, Jamal Dajani, have provided a very informative picture of Afghanistan that is unique in the usual media news. This report is sorely needed for U.S. citizens (and others) to understand what is really happening there. I would have liked to have seen/heard more sources and info about their trustworthiness, however. Overall, I highly recommend this report and also LinkTV for its news coverage.
Reports on the terrorist organization al Qaeda, which has its roots in Afghanistan, took a back seat to coverage of the Taliban. But a New Republic feature on the declining influence of al Qaeda’s central leadership proved an eye-opening read. Tom Maertens gave this assessment of the story:
These are reputable anti-terrorist writers who seem to have the story right: al-Qaeda's willingness to kill civilians, particularly Muslim civilians, is undermining their support around the world. The question is whether AQ has morphed into a Leaderless Jihad, as Marc Sagemen contends, or remains a centralized organization as Bruce Hoffman believes. The two have contended in public on the subject and the answer is not clear who is right. This article tends to downplay the future threat; its central thesis, that AQ has alienated moderate Muslims, may well be true in much of the Muslim world, but doesn't seem to hold in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Early Results from the Election News Hunt
For the next two weeks, NewsTrust is joining forces with our partners PBS Engage and the documentary series P.O.V. to find great journalism on the presidential election in our two-week 2008 Election News Hunt.
Earlier this week, P.O.V. aired its new documentary “Election Day,” which hones in on the street-level experiences of American voters who took part in the 2004 election. Shot from the perspective of 11 groups of people -- from first time voters to election officials -- the 74-minute documentary combines the stories of Americans throughout the country into one narrative. If you didn’t get a chance to see it on your local PBS station, check it out on the P.O.V. “Election Day” website, where it is running through the month of July.
As an election official I find this to be very cool. Journalistically this has lots of evidence, sources and viewpoints. In some scenes the meaning of what is happening may not be clear to all. This isn't surprising, since elections can be confusing to everyone involved. For balance it might have been good to also follow a Democratic field manager. The true value of this is seeing things that we usually only read about.
Other early highlights from the News Hunt included an op-ed from FindLaw on Barack Obama’s vague position on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) law and warantless wiretapping. Elizabeth White-Nadler had this to say about the op-ed, which was written by former Richard Nixon counsel John Dean:
This piece is remarkable, intriguing, even astonishing. I assume that John Dean is accurate in his legal scholarship; and he certainly should be familiar with the legal precedents to immunity and criminal prosecution of government officials. If Obama really intends to pursue criminal prosecutions if elected, that would explain his seemingly inexplicable reversal on the FISA expansion. I don't understand why this has not received more coverage.
News and commentary on John McCain’s family’s wealth has also garnered attention, as has his trip to Colombia and Mexico, which began yesterday. A blog post from Politico compared investigations into the personal wealth of McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, to similar inquiries made in 2004 of the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Chris Finnie, co-host of the presidential election News Hunt, held it in high regard. “Comprehensive and well-researched,” she wrote, “this piece lays out a fuller view of the McCain family finances than I've seen in any other single article.”
The Election News Hunt will continue through July 14. To get started, check out our Election topic page. There you'll find a wide range of news stories and opinion pieces on the 2008 election. Try out the NewsTrust review tool to rate these stories -- and be sure to focus on the quality of the journalism, rather than whether you agree or disagree with the viewpoints expressed in each story.
Happy Fourth of July!
Derek Hawkins, Assistant Editor -- with the NewsTrust Team