(My Middle East)

77 days with a journalist, Lebanon, and a list of non sequiturs

Posts Tagged ‘newspaper

Nonsense in the News

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I’d say about 60-70 percent of whats published in newspapers in Lebanon is politician or prominent figure quote stories. Things like Geagea said this or Aoun said that (speaking of which, Qifa Nabki sites two sources that say around 50 percent of Chrsitians are still down with Aoun ) Anyways of that 60-70 percent almost all of it is garbage that tells you absolutely nothing like this headline from An-Nahar :

Sources close to PM-designate Saad Hariri told An-Nahar yesterday evening that Hariri is “calmly completing the process of forming the government.”

Really An-Nahar? I’m so glad you told me that. And I’m really happy you used an anonymous source to tell me the PM is calmly completing government formation, I’m now so well informed. It’s a real shame. Stories like these don’t tell you anything, quotes make up over 70 percent of the story and it avoids the real journalism work that should be done.

Almost all the time the quotes are positive things like “the government formation is going well” “all guns are almost off the street” there should be no fighting”. People literally take quotes like that and turn them into front page huge headline stories. BUT, after sifting through dozens of these useless stories every day, there were two that did catch my eye.

Sfeir says ‘nothing going well’ in Lebanon

“Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir was pessimistic on Tuesday about the overall political situation in Lebanon. Sfeir told a delegation of residents from the Chouf town of Brih, that the Lebanese were “currently facing a difficult period.” “Nothing is going well,” he added”

and this one

General Michel Aoun: we don’t know who’s forming the cabinet anymore

“We no longer know who is forming the government amidst all of the diplomatic visits and the clear interventions (Syria-US-France)”

Positive quotes never tell you much, and those have been almost all of these quote stories since the election. But the fact that people are deviating from the reconciliation line in addition to the recent clashes, could be a sign this government formation is headed for rough waters.

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Written by stephenddockery

July 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm

1st day at the The Daily Star

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Today was my first day at work and as expected and despite apprehension, it was decidedly anti-climactic. I was fortunately surprised to find a kind taxi driver (or ‘servíce‘ because we picked up other passengers) who didn’t try and hustle me for money, and I got to The Daily Star on time.

Offices at The Daily Star (not my picture)

Offices at The Daily Star (not my picture)

The Daily Star itself was almost exactly what I had expected. The offices are slightly dark and run down and maybe a little cramped, but the news room had a great atmosphere and was full of activity. In particular there was Osama, an older man who spoke English French and Arabic who has an interesting sense of humor and looked to be in charge of the news room or something close to that.

After getting a brief tour, I was introduced to Mirella Hodeib who I will be working for for the time being. Mirella is in charge of the themed page, page 6, which runs AP briefs on a different topic each day. Tomorrow’s is science and technology, so I scavenged an aggregator called manslink, which pulled together the latest news wire stories based on search word. After 3 hours I pulled together 5-6 stories for tomorrows page, which included: the largest ever international space station, a 4 million year old sloth found and something about genetics hair-loss and mice. Not exactly thrilling, but its work, and I get the feeling that things will get more exciting as I go on. And hey it’s just the first day. Mirella told me tomorrow I might get a story for the business section which could be good.

I wrote this from a cafe called Spoon right across from The Daily Star. Spoon serves American and Italian cuisine like most of the cafes in Gemayze. Theres much more French spoken over here as well. So today I eat a turkey sandwich and a basket of fries (hows that for middle eastern food?). I’m still trying to figure out the food, but I’ve found in general its difficult to eat really cheap, 12.50 for a turkey sandwich, fries and a coke is pretty much the same as american prices. I’m going to have to start trying more restaurants in Hamra to compare, and find something economical.

Written by stephenddockery

May 26, 2009 at 5:25 pm