Pakistan News Hunt - Final Results
On Sunday we wrapped up a two-week News Hunt on Pakistan with the Huffington Post and its Eyes & Ears team,
and the results were eye-opening. Over a hundred Huffington Post members
joined the NewsTrust community to search for the best journalism on
Pakistan -- looking at a wide range of issues, from the country's struggle against
extremism to its regional politics.
It was not an easy task. Although several major events rocked the Pakistani social, political and ethnic landscape, coverage of this topic was relatively limited in Western news media throughout most of our News Hunt. But by focusing our attention on Pakistani blogs and newspapers, as well as the international press, we were able to compare the country's feet-on-the-ground coverage with stories from U.S., British, Indian and other publications around the globe. (Check out our previous blog posts from week one and week two of this News Hunt).
In total, we submitted 169 stories on Pakistan, 68 of which received a NewsTrust rating (with three or more reviews). Of these, 52 were news stories and 16 were opinions (see our full listing of top rated stories).
In the two weeks that we devoted to Pakistan, four news events dominated stories we reviewed: the reported assassination of Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud; the attacks on Christians in Gojra; the Pakistani Supreme Court's ruling against former President Pervez Musharraf; and the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced Pakistanis to Swat Valley. All four of these events, which had far reaching impacts on Pakistani politics, civil society and religious affairs, were reflected in our top stoires.
Mehsud Reported Killed
The reported killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud by U.S. drone planes on Aug. 5th was widely covered, but some disputed his death. In the last few days of our News Hunt, news media were still unsure. The New York Times, quoting several anonymous sources, wrote that (NT reviews) Pakistani and U.S. officials were "increasingly convinced" of his death, but said it could be weeks before they received confirmation. ProPakistan rounded up (NT reviews) news stories on the assassination and offered some background on Mehsud, saying his death would be a "coup for Washington." As of today, several publications continued to report uncertainty on this event.
Mehsud's death drew swift reaction from Pakistani blogs. Kalsoom Lakhani of Changing Up Pakistan wrote (NT reviews) that while, if confirmed, it would have a "marginal effect" on the Taliban, it "still represents a pretty hefty symbolic victory for Pakistan. In a war of perceptions, such a fact is significant." Sana Saleem rejoiced (NT reviews) on Mystified Justice. "Baitullah Mehsud’s death can be considered a significant blow but not a definite one," she wrote. "Now that Baitullah is no more the end seems more realistic and attainable."
• Taliban leader reportedly killed in strike - New York Times
• Separated at birth - Dawn
• Baitullah Mehsud killed in drone strike - Pro-Pakistan
Attacks on Gojra Christians
The city of Gojra, Pakistan, was left smoldering at the beginning of the month, when thousands of Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood after hearing rumors that a Qu'ran had been defiled. The mob killed seven Christians, injured others and destroyed hundreds of houses in a wave of violence that lasted about eight hours. The attacks were condemned within Pakistan and around the world as Pakistani Christians shut down schools and businesses in mourning. Some of our highest rated stories involved the attacks -- our community found that several Pakistani and some U.S. sources covered the tragedy well.
• Fear and shame of Gojra - Daily Times (Pakistan)
• Condemning Gojra Riots - Global Voices
• Today, I too am a minority - Dawn
• Hate engulfs Christian minority in Pakistan - New York Times
Mixed verdict on Musharraf
In the same week as the Gojra attacks, Pakistan's high court delivered a long-awaited ruling against former President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned this time last year, facing an impeachment. The Supreme Court ruled that Musharraf's 2007 emergency powers decree -- in which Musharraf suspended the constitution -- was illegal and unconstitutional. Contrary to some expectations, the court decided not to pursue a treason trial against Musharraf, who remains in exile in London, facing possible arrest for related charges if he returns to Pakistan.
• Lessons from the lawyers' movement - Washington Post
• Supreme Court strikes down Nov 3 emergency - Dawn
• Why is Iftikhar Chaudry backing off? - Five Rupees
Return to Swat Valley
We kicked off our News Hunt by comparing stories on the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced Pakistanis to Swat Valley. Months of fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani military had driven an estimated two million or more Pakistanis from the region in what some called the largest human migration in recent history. Having quelled the violence and scattered and killed many Taliban members, the military began escorting Pakistani citizens back home. But reports on overall stability in Swat -- and the military's ability to maintain it -- were by and large contradictory. Our top rated stories on this issue suggested that stability was temporary at best -- and at worst, an illusion.
• Taliban resume attacks in Swat Valley - Wall Street Journal
• Redefining success - Changing Up Pakistan
• As Swat exiles journey home, gunfire suggests problems may not be over - Guardian
More Pakistan Stories
News and opinion on other Pakistan issues also made our list of top stories. Dawn posted eight stories last week that received a NewsTrust rating of 3.5 or higher, including our top rated story of this News Hunt. In "The Taliban and Music" (NT reviews), Zubeida Mustafa, the paper's assistant editor, wrote about how the Taliban has both violently repressed music and used it as a propaganda tool. The Washington Post covered (NT reviews) how violence had impacted Pakistani business and sparked debate over whether to accept economic aid from the United States. India's Frontline ran a special report that assessed (NT reviews) U.S. influence in regional politics -- "quiet diplomacy" on the part of the Obama Administration was proving the most effective approach, it said.
Here is a full listing of our top rated stories from this News Hunt. And check our previous blog posts from this News Hunt here and here.
Thanks to Huffington Post
We'd like to give a huge thanks to our partners at Huffington Post's Eyes & Ears and the hundreds of Huffington Post members who signed up with NewsTrust and joined us in this News Hunt. Matt Palevsky and Hanna Ingber Win (editor of the HuffPost's World section) were a true pleasure to work with.
Matt was kind enough to share what he thought of this News Hunt:
The value to journalism that NewsTrust provides is not only in the results of its rating system, but also in the form of reading that it invites participants to adopt. We all know that reading online lends itself to skimming and multi-tasking. NewsTrust serves to slow people down and forces readers to closely consider the information they consume. For online news, that can only be a good thing."
We're very grateful for these thoughtful observations, which help clarify the true mission of our service: to encourage a new 'form of reading' that makes us all more discerning news consumers.
Thanks again to everyone at the Huffington Post who participated in this News Hunt. Your insights and commitment to this cause are invaluable - and it's a real delight to be working with world-class partners like you.
Thanks to our host: Emma Asomba
Our host for week two of our Pakistan News Hunt was Emma Asomba, who recently joined NewsTrust through the Huffington Post. Emma, a specialist in research and policy analysis, reviewed dozens of stories on Pakistan during this investigation and made some outstanding contributions to this project.
When we asked for his impressions on our News Hunt, Emma remarked that reading and reviewing a range of Western and Pakistani publications gave him a broader perspective on the role of the United States in Pakistan and its impact on the country's politics, economics and civil society. "Instead of staying put on the international mindset," he said, "injecting some Pakistani accounts brought to the open the local context, its realities with all the interfaces between fact-checking, critical analyses and what it takes for a dose of pragmatism to balance biases and independence in reporting (of course from both aisles of the spectrum). Pakistani bloggers, Emma said, also made helpful contributions to the public dialog on Pakistan. "From my standpoint, it was very informative because many uncovered facts (from the international scene) came up to the surface," he said.
Check out Emma's story reviews from last week for more on the diversity of coverage he reviewed and the "smoking pieces" he rated highest. Thanks again for your superb contributions, Emma, and welcome to NewsTrust!
Last but not least, thanks to our growing community of reviewers for their wonderful contributions to this collaborative quest for quality news and information. The more you review on NewsTrust, the more we learn from each other - and the smarter we get as a community. Keep it up!
Next Week: Afghanistan News Hunt
Join next week's Afghanistan News Hunt with WNET's Worldfocus. As Afghanistan prepares for its second ever presidential election on August 20, we will compare stories from around the world on this troubled state and how its many challenges impact the world community. Hope you'll join us!
-- Derek Hawkins, with Fabrice Florin, Kaizar Campwala and Joey Baker