June 4, 2002







illustration by Karen Barbour

Read The Big Story online.

What has this done to us?

by Michael Elliott
The major US media did a remarkable job covering the biggest story in a generation, and excellent work continues apace. So why do we all feel like something isn't quite right?

Editing Bill Clinton... with Fife Symington

Bill Clinton on globalization, poverty, and the American media
Former president Bill Clinton has spent the past year on the speaking circuit, preaching the values of globalization and doing a little damage control on his presidency in the press. Rather than run his comments unedited, we have asked the former governor of Arizona, prominent Republican (and Clinton-critic) Fife Symington to chime in with another view.

Our man in Afghanistan, Intelligence Online, and Governor Gray Davis: stories we like and those we don't.

Profit over public interest, again
by Lowell Bergman

If you had gone to any major news program before September 11 and asked to do a story about Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kurdistan or the political upheaval in South and Central Asia, they would have laughed.

From Hasbara to Intifada: How Israel's foreign press corps rewrote history
by William J. Drummond
The United States was totally unprepared for Muslim Arabs to successfully bring about that kind of sneak attack because for 30 years the media had stereotyped Muslims - Arabs especially - as militarily hapless.

War on Drugs = War on Terror?
During the 2001 Superbowl in February, the American public was sold a bold new idea: the war on drugs = the war on terror.

Brill on Content:
Interview with Stephen Brill. Media did a good job on 9/11, he says, but now they're up to old tricks.

Fall Girl: Nikki Finke and the New York Post
It wasn't long after the World Trade Center collapsed that reporters began to examine the crumbling U.S. economy. One veteran business reporter, Nikki Finke, had been hired by the New York Post last December to write about the entertainment and media industries. But Finke lasted less than two months at the Post.

No flag, no funding
Lawmakers move to cut budget of Missouri station after journalists refuse to wear flagpins. Beth Malicki, an evening news anchor at KOMU, received e-mails calling her a terrorist and a murderer. "Suddenly, I was thrust in the middle of a patriotic war," she says. "My suit jacket was the battleground."

3,000 dead every month in South Africa
In rural, HIV-ridden South Africa, one would expect a place consumed by the AIDS pandemic: the country has more HIV carriers than any other nation in the world, with 4.7 million people infected. But in December, South Africans were consumed with something besides the disease that keeps killing family, friends and neighbors.

Remember the dot-bomb?
Cody Oliver has nuclear missiles on his mind. But he's not thinking about homeland defense or threats from the "axis of evil." The 23-year-old is negotiating to buy a 47,000-square-foot Titan I nuclear missile facility outside of Denver, Colorado.

The Kyoto Ice Age:
How global warming went cold
For years, scientists have said global warming will sink Venice and drown Hawaii. But after September 11, American media focused their attention on the attacks, leaving the Kyoto Protocol and global warming out in the cold.

Journalism schools revamp curricula
Like many professors around the country, Charles Davis at the Missouri Journalism School came to class in fall 2001 with a syllabus - then promptly shelved it after the attacks.

Radio Free Middle East?
When the war on terrorism began, the United States knew it could not achieve victory through bombs and troops alone. It would also need to win over the minds of the world. How do you reach people who are young, poor and illiterate? The attempt at an answer: radio.

Reporting from Ground Zero
After the World Trade Center fell, some journalism students launched their careers. But that was little consolation.

Is war 'cool'?
When terrorists attacked the twin Towers and the Pentagon, American youth did as they always do: they turned on MTV.

Wall Street Journal: a profile in courage
The reporters and editors at the Wall Street Journal not only saw the World Trade Center attacks - they felt and heard the Twin Towers explode and shatter the windows of the Journal office.

As bombs dropped in Afghanistan and Pakistan became enveloped in internal turmoil, New York Times photographer Vincent Laforet walked into dangerous territory, aimed his lens, and captured a side of the conflict the world had never seen.

Explore Vincent Laforet's Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of Afghan refugees.

September 11: The final straw in a terrible year
Audiences up, advertising down

Though print media gained in circulation and TV news sucked in more viewers, a larger audience could not offset losses caused by the decrease in advertising revenue.

The dot-coms took the ads with them... and the media jobs too.
The Knight Ridder Co., the nation's second-largest newspaper group, announced a 16 percent decline in its operating profit, another casualty of the advertising malaise. Yet effective cost control measures helped the company earn $51.8 million in the first quarter this year, up from last year's $40.7 million.

Al-Jazeera meets CNN: Western and Islamic media share similar problems.
by Kai Hafez
When the Emir of Qatar complained that the American ambassador had actually asked him to censor Al-Jazeera, a wave of criticism both by international and Arab journalists broke out.

War on terror: A high-tech spectacle, but what about the human cost?
Michael Haller, publisher of the German media review Message and professor of journalism at the University of Leipzig, Germany, shares his thoughts on American coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Where's the debate?
by Hadas Ragolsky
Why are they censoring the pictures?" I asked myself a few hours after the attacks. As an Israeli journalist, I'm accustomed to coverage of terrorist attacks with graphic pictures of the injured, of ambulances rushing to hospitals and of devastated families in their homes as they receive the horrible news. I waited, but the gruesome pictures never came.

Venezuela's Watergate: How the press ousted a president
The shot that temporarily ended Chavez's presidency in April didn't come from a an assassin, but a cameraman who filmed a government supporter firing wildly from a rooftop into an unarmed crowd.

Three Perspectives
Journalists in Mexico, China and Turkey praise and pan coverage of Sept. 11.

The Self-Censors
by Dieter Wild
It will be a while before the world will have fully digested September 11, 2001 - especially the American press. Indeed, the U.S. media has not been so radically shaken since the Vietnam War.

Get Your Dark Humor On
Some argue that the go-go '90s were fallow years for dark humor. If that's the case, September 11 and the ensuing War on Terrorism were a monsoon and a huge bag of fertilizer.

Sept. 11: The Ultimate Field Day for Conspiracists!
From Lyndon LaRouche using a Sept. 11 radio show for campaign material, to Chandra Levy as a recruit from the Israeli Mossad, conspiracies abound.

So what's the next Big Story? As much as the media has learned from September 11, we believe media decision makers haven't internalized the most important lesson of all - prioritizing what really matters to the American public. No better example can be made than the Condit-Levy case. When poor Ms. Levy's body was found in late May, threats of nuclear attack were once again pushed off the front pages and screens of American media for 'live' reports from the scene.

Find out our prognostications of what the next Big Story might be.

Coup dé Geraldo
The war on terror was ho-hum until Geraldo got a gun.

"Forward this to everyone you know!"
E-mail hoaxes, lies, ran rampant after terrorist attacks

Following September 11, the email rumor mill went into high-gear, churning out conspiracy theories, urban legends and multiple accusations of people celebrating the acts of terror.

The lion and the lamb
Marjan the mistreated lion and Hamid Karzai's hat.

Osama, Bert and the Afghan rock-eater
Osama does Sesame Street.

The accidental tourist guy
How one man witnessed the greatest tragedies in history.

If news is starting to sound the same, try an alternative
Since September 11, the sometimes penetrating, sometimes silly, often irreverent, but always welcome alternative press has produced some of the most piercing analyses of U.S. policy and the situations in the Near and Middle East.

Politically Incorrect: A Eulogy
Maher was one of the few with enough guts to dissent
When ABC moved to cancel Nightline and replace it with Letterman, a furor arose in the public and press. Where was the furor when ABC censored then canceled Politically Incorrect?

Saturday Night News
Bored with the scripted nature of traditional news programs, viewers have turned to talk shows and late-night for information.

Is Jon Stewart a journalist? Do we care?
Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has never claimed to be a hard news show.

Media Matters: The relationship between the Pentagon and the press
Most people agreed that the war on terrorism was a new kind of war. But what may not have been expected was the Pentagon's handling of reporters trying to cover the war.

Warriors of information: The changing role of war correspondents
by Renaud Revel
French journalist Renaud Revel recently took a look at what it means to be a war reporter covering conflict in foreign countries. In this story that originally appeared in L'Express, he spoke to both young and experienced photojournalists to find out how war reporting has changed over the past several decades.

The Big Story writers and editors consult a diverse body of informational resources in the creation of each issue.

Here's a sampling of resources we used to get this issue out.


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