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August 18, 2005

Bono Has Left the Building

Yesterday's Washington Post notes that no one, not even the World Food Program (nor, it goes unsaid, the Washington Post), paid attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in Niger until a BBC camera crew showed up and started broadcasting pictures of emaciated children around the world. "It went virtually unnoticed for a good many months," notes the WFP's executive director James Morris, explaining that what with the tsunami and all, "People do get preoccupied by the high-profile emergencies."

So what makes an emergency high-profile? What sort of international news is likely to make the front page of newspapers here in America? Like any good real-estate agent will tell you: It's location, location, location. Speaking of real estate…

The Israeli government decides that in the interest of the peace process it will remove 8,500 settlers from their homes in the Gaza Strip—a decision that settlers have known was coming for quite some time—and every major newspaper in America reports the events (with pictures) on their front page. Zimbabwean authorities decide to "clean" the country's cities by bulldozing the homes of 700,000 citizens—many of whom were still in their homes when it happened—and it sparks an "international outcry" (CNN) heard by about seven people in the UN and no one who hasn't dug deep into American media reports.

I'm not saying that Israel's Gaza withdrawal isn't front-page news, but isn't Zimbabwe's own home-displacement story ("Operation Restore Order") equally tragic, if not more so?

Aaron Zamost contributed to this post.

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