Monthly Archives: May 2008

Thoughts on the future of journalism

Ethan Zuckerman describes various financial models.

Alissa Quart muses on “Lost Media, Found Media” in CJR.

The UN and Sexual Violence

Reuters flags an upcoming UN Security Council meeting June 19. The topic is how to elevate the sexual violence that occurs at horrific levels in many conflict zones to the very top of the security agenda. Critics like Stephen Lewis  are scathing about the UN’s failure to protect women from rape.  A conference in the UK this week tries to address the military side of the equation and what role peacekeepers could play.  My reporting in the DRC and Rwanda in December raised my own awareness of this issue.  I hope to do a radio piece exploring the UN angle before the June 19 meeting.


A UN peacekeeper has been killed in Darfur. Here’s the BBC story.

My colleague Carol Hills looks at what’s behind a joint statement from the three presidential hopefuls on Darfur. Find the story in the Vote 2008 section of our website. Carol is heading up our election coverage on the web, looking at foreign policy and other international angles in the U.S. race. (See also Matthew Bell’s weekly Elections 2008 podcast.)

Lots of fresh writing on Darfur on Alex de Waal’s blog Making Sense of Darfur, including Julie Flint on the rebels and Jerome Tubiana on land and the Zaghawa. Today De Waal summarizes his recent speech at the Royal African Society in London “Can Sudan Survive?”

Eric Reeves maintains his focus on Khartoum in this latest in the Christian Science Monitor.

Meanwhile Abyei, a contested flashpoint in the North-South peace elsewhere in Sudan, has seen serious fighting recently. US diplomacy is currently focused on averting a return to war there. 


I’m off on another reporting trip this weekend for my series on how wars end. This time I’m delving into why WWI ended when it did and what sort of peace followed.  I’ll be talking to historians in the UK,  touring battlefields in Belgium and visiting the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.  The challenge with any radio piece is focus.  I need to figure out which parts of a large and complicated story to tell.  If you have thoughts on what’s most important about the way WWI ended, do post a comment. I’ll let you know how I get on.  My current reading:

Hew Strachan The First World War

Margaret MacMillan Paris 1919

Zara Steiner The Lights that Failed

Guatemala’s Past

My colleague Clark Boyd, Technology Correspondent for PRI’s The World, has a must-watch piece about the Guatemalan National Police Archive on PBS’s Frontline/World tonight.   The original radio story aired on The World in September 2007. I found it riveting.

Here’s Clark’s “nutshell” description of the story:

More than 200,000 people died and went missing during Guatemala’s 36 year civil war. While the army was responsible for atrocities against indigenous people in the countryside, many have wondered about the targeted campaigns against dissidents and activists in the cities. It’s long been thought that the country’s National Police were responsible. Three years ago, the archives of the National Police were discovered by chance in a derelict police building in the middle of Guatemala City. Now, with the help of a Silicon Valley non-profit called Benetech, some 80 million documents are being cleaned, scanned, and analyzed for potential human rights abuses.

PBS local listings are here:


The aid crisis in Burma following the cyclone prompted some interesting discussion of the UN-endorsed principle of the “Responsibility to Protect.”  

For background on the principle of “R2P” see the website of the newly-created Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the Ralphe Bunche Institute for International Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.

The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner first raised the question with respect to Burma  earlier this month.

The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan touched on the issue yesterday on The World.

Samantha Power and Fred Hiatt discussed the issue last week on NPR.

Aside from the question of whether R2P is relevant to Burma, there’s been a heated debate about its merits with respect to Darfur. Advocates of R2P see Darfur as a test case. Critics say R2P is just a slogan and a false promise. 

Gareth Evans makes the case FOR.

Alex de Waal makes the case AGAINST.

Part of the disagreement hinges on whether you think R2P is synonymous with military intervention or not.

Lots of food for thought.

Balkan Bakers

A propos the future of the Balkans, here’s an intriguing piece from the BBC’s Nick Thorpe on bakers from Kosovo who are scattered throughout the former Yugoslavia.

I met Nick in Pristina in 1999 when we were both covering the aftermath of the war there. He’s one of the few reporters who has returned to the region again and again to see how things are developing there.