December 18, 2006

There’s headlines, then there’s HEADLINES.

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:57 am

The thrust of latest Red Cross/Red Crescent World Disasters Report is that there’s lots of disasters that happen in the world every day that don’t get reported in the media. For example, every 90 minutes a Nepalese woman dies from childbirth. Every day. All year. And it’s not a headline. (Most die because they bleed to death — easily preventable).

There’s been a lot of discussion over the years what makes a headline and why some news just ain’t news. Why the media report heavily on disasters like the Indian Ocean Tsunami but not other disasters. Why, when there are more children who die every day from poverty than died in the tsunami, it’s not even a blip on an RSS feed.

So what does it take? What’s a headline? Here’s what various news editors and directors say:

1. There’s got to be the local connection. We’re a parochial bunch after all. They say that the Tsunami was a popular news story because it happened at popular holiday destinations.
2. Offer solutions — people want to hear that they can do something.
3. If you’re an NGO, pitch a story that you’d like to see in the news.
4. Develop personal connections with journalists — they’ll help ya if they know ya.

There’s nothing groundbreaking in that advice. And of course they don’t mention that reporting the news is not just about informing and educating the public. It’s about selling the product and making a profit. News editors are much more likely to go with the old chestnuts like sex, scandal and sensation. It reminds me of the joke:

Dubya and Rumsfeld are sitting in a bar. A journalist walks up to them and says, “What are you guys talking about?”
Rumsfeld says, “We’re planning a war in Iraq. We’re going to kill a million Muslims and a blonde woman with big tits.”
The journalist asks, “Why are you going to kill a blonde woman with big tits?”
Rumsfeld whispers to Dubya, “See! I told you they wouldn’t notice the million Muslims.”

Boom boom.


December 15, 2006

Hoods ain’t no good

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 10:07 am

Well boys, it’s official. If you’re circumcised you cut the chance of catching HIV in half. Circumcising works so well that researchers stopped clinical trials in Kenya and Uganda to announce the results. There’s a couple of reasons why they think it works.

1. Because the cells on the inside of the foreskin are particularly susceptible to HIV infection and they’re cut off when a man is circumcised.
2. HIV also may survive better in a warm, wet environment like that found beneath a foreskin.

How ’bout that. Of course using condoms is still the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.

Read more about the study.

December 14, 2006

How many fluent Arabic speakers work at the US Embassy in Iraq?

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 1:48 pm


That’s right, six people speak Arabic fluently out of 1000 staff. A further 33 speak any Arabic at all. No wonder the war’s going so well.

Read the full Iraq Study Group report.

December 13, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 5:52 am

This week Transparency International released the Corruption Perception Index, which ranks more than 150 countries by their perceived levels of corruption. And the winners are:

Least corrupt
New Zealand

Most corrupt

According to Transparency International, this year’s index highlights a strong correlation between corruption and poverty. This is interesting because one of the arguments used against aid is that it is siphoned off by corrupt governments. But I think the results really indicate that if we reduce overall levels of poverty, then countries also become less corrupt.

Find out more

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