Mass Media

Over the past few months, there have been religious riots, killer floods, a full-scale war, a government overthrown, U.S. bombing and more religious riots in the Horn of Africa. Don't feel too bad if you've been too distracted by news about The Real World: Denver and the iPhone to pay attention to these developments half a world away. After all, even those in the midst of the turmoil have long since learned that when it comes issues of global significance, the most important stuff is always going to be happening in the good old U.S. of A.

I saw this firsthand while I was in Ethiopia reporting on the recent Westword feature "Pot of Gold." I spent some time with Getinet Kelkle, the former secretary general of the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters' Association. At the time, his country was erupting in small-scale riots, suffering from mass flooding, and preparing to go to war with Somalia. He never mentioned any of it. The only time current events came up was when he turned to me and asked, "What happened to that guy who killed the child?"

He was talking, of course, about John Mark Karr and JonBenet Ramsey. -- Joel Warner

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts