TopFinds: Citizen Journalism Coverage of Gaza Tells the Raw Story

Posted Jan 9, 2009 by David Silverberg
Lineup of Gaza residents wait for food
Gaza: Line up for food.
Photo by Sameh A. Habeeb
On-the-ground photography in the Gaza Strip. The porn industry hungry for some bailout booty. And Bush Sr. wants Jeb to run for president. These are the top stories making news right now.
The war in the Gaza Strip continues to be making headlines around the world.'s reporter in the region, Sameh A. Habeeb, has kept readers updated on what he sees on the ground, providing an unfiltered account of the destruction and deaths he is seeing around him. His four articles during the week covered how artillery shells are pushing civilians away from their homes and the naval gunboats bombarding the Gaza shore. He also uploaded some of his original photography from the disaster zone, but be warned some photos contain graphic material. We hope Sameh protects himself in this dangerous region, and we'll be keeping an eye out for his follow-up reports.
Photo of destroyed buildings in Gaza
Destroyed buildings in Gaza City
Photo by Sameh A. Habeeb
A fantastic original story came from the reportage of Adriana Stujit, who interviewed a Massachusetts homecrafter about an upcoming law that will overhaul American home businesses. The new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will require entrepreneurs to test the products they sell from their home, in order to determine the lead content in each item they wish to sell. It's a law focused on crafters who make child products. We learned how much this will set back these homecrafters and why some are upset at the new legislation. Check out the flood of comments from those who supported the law opposition.
Below are the top stories winning popularity right now:
Israel uses cluster bombs in Gaza: The Middle East war continues to become a hot topic on, with reporter Chris V. Thangham explaining how Israel is using cluster bombs in Gaza. He said the U.S. had a hand in this ploy, writing "Congress approved a $77 million dollar deal to sell a thousand Boeing GBU-39 bunker-buster “smart bombs” to Israel."
A hole in a Gaza building
A hole in a Gaza building
Photo by Sameh A. Habeeb
Norwegian Doctor in Gaza Supported Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.: One of the more contentious statements uttered by someone during the Gaza conflict centered on a Norwegian doctor who claimed Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians. Dr. Mads Gilbert's statement should be fronted by his CV: he supported the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Expect more controversial quotes to float through the air during this trying time.
Vatican: Gaza Strip is a Concentration Camp: Speaking of bristling statements, here's one straight from the Vatican -- the Gaza Strip is now resembling "a big concentration camp." This castigation by the Vatican's Cardinal Renato Martino created a furor of a debate in the comments section of the article, especially angering Israeli resident Allon Sacks.
Bush Sr.: My Son Jeb Should Run For President: Let's not forget the politics stirring the pot on U.S. shores. George Bush Sr. has claimed his son Jeb could run for President, raising the prospects of a complete Bush legacy overtaking the White House. Is this a family you would like to see running the country once again?
World-Famous Marks & Spencers Stores Closing 27 Stores in England: The economic crisis is forcing several stores to close, including the ubiquitous Marks & Spencers in the UK. As Leo Reyes reported, "Cost cutting measures are being looked into by M&S management including the employees new pension scheme which will save the company at least 200 million pounds." It's getting so bad even Macy's is hinting it will close some stores down the road.
Porn industry wants Federal bailout to save society: Oh porn, how you have fallen. Paul Wallis informed us about the porn industry's request of $5 billion to save it from going under, and we're not talkin' under the covers. He said the business world can learn from the skin trade: "If the porn industry can be saved, the financial sector could be taught Porn Economics, the idea of sales of something people actually want, for the purpose of profit, as distinct from Subprime Economics, the sale of sexless garbage nobody ever needed for the purpose of destroying the global economy."
Office Lottery Pool? You Better Include Everyone: Here's a lesson for lottery lovers: share your lotto winnings with colleagues that are part of the lottery pool. Four employees in Piqua, Ohio are suing 14 of their co-workers for failing to share lottery winnings. Supposedly, the four were absent on the day the winning ticket was purchased during an office lottery pool. Let the haggling begin.
Babysitter Shot by Angry 4-year-old: This depressing story out of Ohio related the news of a babysitter shot by a four-year-old she was paid to babysit the child. The kid has not been charged and the case is under investigation, but the big question is who should blame? The parents who left the gun nearby? The child? We have a feeling this story isn't disappearing anytime soon.
John Travolta
Actor John Travolta at the London premiere of his film "Wild Hogs."
Photo by Caroline Bonarde Ucci
Speculation About Travolta Son Death Raises Autism Concerns: Another heartbreaking story revolves around John Travolta and his recently deceased son, a shocking story that has brought autism to the front burner. Journalist Carol Forsloff wrote, "[People] were said to be concerned because other film stars have been public about autism and believe, as professionals do, that treatment for it is critical." Another Citizen Journalist also mentioned how the Travolta family arrived in Florida with their son's ashes.
Pacquiao-Hatton Boxing Match: Two Fights for the Price of One: Always on top of the boxing beat, Leo Reyes reported on the May 2009 match between Filipino hero Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton. He dropped info about the major news of the other match taking place during that night, between seasoned boxing trainer Fred Roach and Floyd Mayweather Sr. Rest assured Leo will be on top of all the news relating to Pacquiao-Hatton in the coming months.

TopFinds Awards

The honourees of this week's TopFinds Awards attracted impressive attention and widest readership. Digital Journal thanks the following Citizen Journalists with Awards for their passion for covering the top issues of the day: Chris V. Thangham, Barbara Sowell, Tar De Moutonnoir, Leo Reyes, Paul Wallis, Nikki Weingartner, Carol Forsloff, Sameh A. Habeeb and Adriana Stujit.
The Blog Post of the Week is awarded to Margaret Kriel and her harrowing story about Zimbabwean region Binga, where "the people in the interior are literally slowly starving to death." In descriptive paragraphs both heartbreaking and evocative, Kriel explained how seriously deprived these residents have been in the past few years, surviving on roots and berries. She also illustrated the story of a boy whose arm was broken, where an X-ray machine was broken and the medical procedure had to take place blindly. Very moving stuff and definitely worth a look.
We are introducing a new award in TopFinds. We are pleased to honour the first Top Comment of the Week to Gary Brown for his intelligent reply to Bill Richardson's announcement he is backing out of the Commerce Secretary position. He offered his own ideas to boost innovation in the U.S., from encouraging the administration to terminate all business taxes to building better quality products. His language was clear and powerful, and he backed up his argument with facts. Great comment, Gary, and we look forward to more healthy debates on