Monday, July 07, 2003

Slow news day for the wire services

Bush arrives in Africa! Protests greet him! The protests are huge!

...No, actually, they aren't:

Calling the United States a warlike nation bent on global hegemony, about 40 people marched from Dakar's main mosque, through densely populated neighborhoods, to a central monument marking Senegal's independence from France in 1960.
Wow, 40 people. In a Muslim nation. That's worth a wire story, no? At least they give the scale in the first paragraph, with the vague "dozens."

Contrast this to Reuters, which not only waits until the third paragraph to give a "crowd" estimate -- 50, in their case -- but also attributes extra significance to their claims:

The protesters only numbered about 50, but they gave voice to some of the concerns running through the poverty- stricken continent where Bush will spend five days.
Far be it for me to speculate (hey, it's good enough for Reuters...), but I doubt that 50 people can "give voice to concerns" of an entire continent. Never mind that Africa is indeed poverty-stricken, so I imagine for most people, the concerns are more along the lines of where their next meal and medicine will come from, not with the War in Iraq. Both the AP and Reuters emphasize the protest in their headline, and both quote one Seydina Sarr, whose main achievement seems to be carrying a poster that said, "Make tea not war." I guess this is what hippies sound like in sexually-repressed Muslim societies -- wouldn't want to be saying "Make love not war" publicly, eh?

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