Philippines Standoff (WSJ v. NY Times)

On Sunday, September 15, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published an article regarding the standoff in the Philippines.  The ‘stand-off,’ as the papers have called it, has lasted for six days in Manila, Philippines.  The Philippine security forces and the Muslim rebels have been fighting each other for almost a week now.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Fighting intensified between Philippine security forces and Muslim rebels on Saturday in the southern city of Zamboanga, where a bloody standoff now in its sixth day has left more than 50 dead, nearly 200 people held hostage and tens of thousands forced from their homes.”  As of Sunday, both articles are featured in the “World” section and incorporate a photo or photos of this event.  Both articles share a great deal of information about the event, but lack one important detail-the why.

The WSJ article touches on how the attack began.  It states, “The rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front attacked Zamboanga City on Monday with the intent of hoisting their flag at city hall to declare their authority over the area.”  Neither article explains the rebel’s motive.  I am left to wonder what present or past event provoked this violence.

The NY Times article, “Philippine Leaders Descend on Strife-Torn City as Hopes of Cease-Fire Fade,” is written by Floyd Whaley.  The WSJ article, “Fighting Intensifies in Philippine Standoff,” is written by Cris Larano and Josephine Cuenta.

The NY Times article was placed toward the bottom of the “World” section.  The WSJ article was featured toward the top in big, bold letters in the world section.  The NY Times article has a cover photo of many people who have either been evacuated or forced out of their homes due to the wreckage caused by the opposing forces.  This cover photo doesn’t truly capture the essence of the event nor does it match up with the description underneath the photo.  The description reads: “Thousands of people were camped out at a stadium Saturday to flee the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels in Zamboanga in the Philippines.”  The picture, however; doesn’t look nearly as catastrophic.  In fact, it shows a young girl calmly talking on a cell phone.  The girl is surrounded by clothes, travel bags, and people casually sitting on bleachers.  In Larano and Cuenta’s WSJ article there is a slide show of twenty captivating and distressing photos.  The pictures feature displaced citizens mourning over the loss of their homes and town, Filipino soldiers in action and ready to fight, and newly released hostages.

The NY Times characterizes the President of the Philippines, Bengino S. Aquino III, as conceited.  The article states, “The situation was serious enough that the country’s top civilian and military leaders traveled to the city, despite the mayhem, to plan their strategy. President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived Friday, with one of his escort helicopters taking small-arms fire as he landed.”  The WSJ, however; characterizes the President as compassionate.  It states, “Mr. Aquino spent the night in the southern city, monitoring the situation. Early Saturday, he visited the more than 40,000 people who have sought refuge in the city’s sports complex.”

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