To me, the most exciting thing about the internet is how it empowers individuals. More than ever before, a single person can make a difference because his or her work can so easily be leveraged–viewed within a matter of hours by thousands or even millions of people around the world, with no need for media gatekeepers. If I had to offer one example of a single individual who has used the medium to make a difference, it would be Arthur Chrenkoff. He has devoted himself to collecting the under-reported news of progress in Iraq and Afghanistan and putting it out in the blogosphere; more recently, the Wall Street Journal’s online edition has also been publishing Arthur’s roundups.
Today’s edition is on Afghanistan, and it is absolutely unbelievable. It seems just about book-length, and covers improvements in every phase of Afghan life. Reading it is a revelation. Arthur begins:
Over the last few weeks, Afghanistan has been in the news again–unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. The media pack has made a brief reappearance in Afghanistan to report on carefully staged “spontaneous” riots, which briefly erupted around the country, ostensibly in protest over a report in Newsweek (later retracted) about desecration of Koran by the American military personnel at Guantanamo Bay.
Sadly, in the rush of commentary about Afghanistan’s slide into anarchy and America’s deteriorating position in Kabul, most of the international media again missed or downplayed many other stories, some of them arguably far more consequential than an antigovernment rampage whipped up by opponents of President Hamid Karzai. Take this story:
A crowd of 600 Afghan clerics gathered in front of an historic mosque yesterday to strip the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar of his claim to religious authority, in a ceremony that provided a significant boost to the presidency of Hamid Karzai.
The declaration, signed by 1,000 clerics from across the country, is an endorsement of the US-backed programme of reconciliation with more moderate elements of the Taliban movement that Karzai has been pursuing ahead of the country’s first parliamentary elections, due in September.
You really have to read the whole thing to get an idea of the magnitude of the story that the press is missing in Afghanistan.