NY Times story shows more bias, but gives a narrative look

28 Mar

Both articles showed that, although about half of the Afghani population feels the country is moving in the right direction, many Afghanis are unhappy with the way their country is moving.

I think the USA Today article “Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security” did a great job of pulling straight quotes from the Asia Foundation’s poll, and I think this helps readers look at the facts that stand out to them the most. However, the New York Times expressed the people’s feelings rather than just facts, and it explained each statistic rather than just listing it.

In this case, the New York Times did a better job of putting both statistics and descriptions together. Although it may seem a little biased because of the narrative style, I don’t think most articles are entirely without opinion.


Afghans have lost a considerable amount of confidence in the direction of their country over the past two years, according to an Asia Foundation survey released Wednesday.

It was the largest opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan, with 6,226 Afghans ages 18 and older being surveyed in 32 of the country’s 34 provinces over the summer.

Although the number of people with negative or mixed views on the trajectory of the country has grown significantly since a similar survey in 2004, the national mood remains positive on the whole.

44 percent of Afghans interviewed said the country was headed in the right direction, compared with 64 percent in 2004 on the eve of the first democratic presidential elections in Afghanistan. Twenty-one percent said the country was headed in the wrong direction — compared with 11 percent in 2004 — and 29 percent had mixed feelings. Four percent were unsure. Security was the main reason for the increased concern, the survey said.

The main goal of the survey was to determine the attitudes of Afghans toward the political process, public policy and development progress.

Security was the main source for optimism among those who said the country was headed in the right direction. But among those who expressed pessimism, more than half said the biggest problem was a lack of security, the Taliban threat and warlords. The southern provinces of Zabul and Uruzgan were excluded from the survey due to extreme security problems.

87 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Army, and 86 percent said they trusted the Afghan National Police, although the International Crisis Group called the Afghan police “little more than private militias” and are “regarded more as a source of insecurity than protection.”

Corruption, which has become one of the main criticisms of the government, was less of a concern for respondents than unemployment and lack of services, with only 8 percent naming it as the biggest problem locally. But when asked specifically if corruption was a problem nationally, 77 percent of respondents said it was, and 60 percent said it had increased.

George Varughese, director of the poll, agrees that some of the results “appear to challenge the current wisdom on issues in Afghanistan,” but said it is still an important, solid piece of work.

However, Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, said the findings do not mean the country does not still need help.
“What they affirm is that help produces results, which in turn generates appreciation.”

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