The Digital Journalist
Street Kids in Odessa
by Michal Novotny
In Sri Lanka
by Norman Ng
Covering Karr
by Paula Bronstein
Another Famine
by Ake Ericson


In September we present four dispatches: The stories are from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and the Ukraine.

Paula Bronstein, based in Bangkok, normally covers the news in Asia and the Middle East. Her life plunged into a tabloid maelstrom with the arrest of John Mark Karr, who had declared that he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died. The child, JonBenet, was killed at her home in Colorado over Christmas 10 years ago. A repeat of the media frenzy of a decade ago gripped television news, newspapers of all sorts and the blogosphere.

Apparently there can never be too many pictures of the 6-year-old beauty queen and in August the alleged perpetrator fell into that same category. When Bronstein sent her dispatch she commented that she didn’t believe the strange-acting Karr did it. That feeling proved to be correct: An announcement came on Aug. 28 that John Mark Karr's DNA did not match that left at the scene. The public's fascination with that sad and sordid affair isn't over yet. Now come the recriminations.

Norman Ng recently wrote about the violence initiated by rival groups in the East Timor city of Dili. He has moved away from Dili but not away from the violence. Now in Sri Lanka, he covers the renewed attacks in the long-running civil war between the Tamil Tigers minority and the Buddhist Singhalese majority. A cease-fire was declared between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan Army—opponents of almost equal strength—in 2002. Since the latest dispute started, reportedly over 200 combatants and many civilians have died. The fighting has displaced over 150,000 people.

Fighting has also led to catastrophic conditions in Ethiopia. The country is in the midst of another famine. Because of warring armies and the forced government resettlement of thousands, crops failed and the population never really recovered from the widespread famine of 1984 that was repeated in 2002. Ake Ericson saw an article in the Stockholm paper and decided to go. The agonizing story of Ethiopia has barely surfaced in the mainstream media and then was quickly drowned by the Gaza-Israel-Lebanon war. It would seem Ethiopia has need of more than the delivery of food.

Food plays a central part of an NGO's work in the Ukraine, also. The NGO "The Way Home" is trying to keep in contact with and make small improvements in the lives of homeless children in Odessa, Ukraine. These children, largely young boys, sniff glue and are addicted to drugs. They are not only addicts; they make their own brew that is then injected into any vein still working. Photographer Michal Novotny takes a long look at the deeply disturbing phenomenon. These are truly the lost boys living in sewers and garbage-filled basements of abandoned houses. They can be lured out with the promise of food and, occasionally, one will go the NGO's center and begin to find a way out of the morass.

If you have a personal story about a news event, please send your idea to me.

Marianne Fulton
Dispatches Editor

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