A NewsTrust news hunt on the global economy

Following a presentation on NewsTrust by editor and frequent reviewer Mike LaBonte, my students in Reinventing the News have been finding, submitting and analyzing stories on the global economy. NewsTrust is a social-networking tool aimed at identifying and promoting quality journalism.

I asked each of my students to submit, rate and write a short critique of three different stories on the global economy — part of a “news hunt” that NewsTrust is conducting this week. I thought I’d do the assignment, too, so here are my choices.

The first, from the Christian Science Monitor, is something of a disappointment: an article about pressures on the International Monetary Fund that is so bureaucratic and top-down in its orientation that it’s impossible to understand the effect of those pressures on ordinary people. Even if you grant that we shouldn’t expect much from a brief overview, it’s hard to know what we are supposed to take away from this story.

Moving right along, we come to a roundup in the Guardian on how plummeting oil prices are affecting four major oil-producing states — Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. As with the Monitor story, there is a top-down quality to this that leaves me a little cold. Nevertheless, it is well-executed, and provides some interesting insights into the changing fortunes of regimes that were riding high just a few months ago.

Finally, CNN offers a story on world hunger that, like the Monitor and the Guardian, is too short to get much beyond the superficial but which, unlike the Monitor and the Guardian, grabs us with the riveting, heartbreaking testimony of an aid worker who frequently travels to Haiti.

“It’s horrible. They have to choose among their children,” Patricia Wolff tells CNN. “They try to keep them alive by feeding them, but sometimes they make the decision that this one has to go.” The story demonstrates a key point about good journalism: even a brief report about global developments can be conveyed in human terms.

NewsTrust, which I’ve been following since its founding a couple of years ago (disclosure: I’m a volunteer editor), is one of the more interesting experiments in building a community around the news. If you haven’t checked it out before, you should give it a look.

I’ll post on what my students have been up to later this week.

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