CNN’s Explain It To Me, Explaining Libya

On my way through a building I saw a TV with news that a military bus in Germany had been attacked. I looked through my Twitterfeed (and this may be a message to me to change my following habits) and saw nothing but the iPad2 announcement. NO I KNOW THE IPAD IS IMPORTANT. Here’s the thing. I went to CNN and saw this Explain it to me: Libya unrest. Embed below.

Basically, what you have is a short tutorial on what’s happening in Libya and what led up to it. I think this is a great idea – I’m  interested in Libya enough and unaware of it’s history enough to want to get caught up. It’s a nice shot at meeting a need – many people (myself included) don’t keep regular tabs on items in the news. I get tidbits from news articles, but something straightforward is helpful. The host, Michael Holmes, is a longtime CNN who has covered the Middle East and Africa. It’s basically like a lecture with video cuts, with appropriate news coverage footage.

What I liked the most was the footage when it matched his description: ‘this came about from lots of young guys unemployed and disenfranchised’, then cut to some video of unemployed, disenfranchised young Libyan guys. What I think it could have used more of, is…really simple pictures. Like: where is Libya? How long has Ghadafi been there? Charts! USA-Today-it-up! The other improvement might be something a little more scripted – this guy seems to know his stuff, and the editor cleverly included the “Let’s wing it” line, which worked both as an intro and to let us know this was off the cuff and not comprehensive.

Other news agencies have done similar things – The New York Times has an interactive (point and click) timeline of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi. They also have a page made up of Middle East Protests designed to look somewhat like newsroom world time clocks with updates. USA Today has a similar page. Others, like “Inside Story” from the Alzajeera Network are too long – 25 minutes – and focus on whether or not the revolution can make it, less on how they got here.

But I haven’t been able to find anything like what I’m looking for, a short video explaining where it is and why it matters. Lots of articles, and I’m happy to read them, but Id’ be interested to see if anyone runs into a short video explaining some background and how it relates to the current situation. Maybe this is something relegated to the nightly news, which I’m out of the habit of watching.

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