Happy New Year to you all! I trust you enjoyed the opportunity to relax, spend time with family and charge your batteries in preparation for yet another (hectic) year.
A report in today's online Haaretz, a left-leaning Israeli newspaper, reminds us how the close of an old and start of a new year marks that season of surveys and summaries of the outgoing year. Thus Haaretz reports on how the Guardian, a UK newspaper also on the political left, analysed its tags for 2010 to discover Israel ranks fifth in the newspaper's stories on foreign countries, leading the Guardian to ponder if it is "disproportionately preoccupied" with Israel. Surely not!
Though, actually, upon closer reflection one does begin to wonder, especially in light of several countries ranked lower than on the list, if the paper is on to something here. These include, for example, Pakistan (where Islamism and ensuing suicide bombings are so commonplace they rarely seem to raise a flicker of emotion in the world press), Iran (currently the globe's leading sabre-rattler and chief news seeker), Mexico (where drug-related deaths make some war casualty statistics seems positively paltry), the DRC (enough said), or poor old Cuba, whose slow dismantling of fifty years of communism doesn't seem to be of much interest to a left-leaning paper. Spare a thought for poor old bad boys Zimbabwe or Syria, where governments quite keen to capture media attention have - at least as far as the Guardian is concerned - failed somewhat dismally. All in all, then, it does make one wonder if "news" is generated not so much by facts than by ideological interests and what a particular paper's constituency wants to hear (otherwise known as preaching to the choir). I'm not sure what is more ironic about this story, then: the paper's admission that it might, after all, be disproportionately preoccupied with Israel, a leftist paper taking another to task on this issue, or else an analysis limited to country tags. I'd love to know how many Guardian stories had environment and global warming tags, which is where, I suspect, the real story of lies concerning this paper's obsession.