ABC claims it has the only American reporter covering famine, violence in Mogadishu

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

When the News Corp.-owned Times of London ran a cartoon featuring starving African children pondering the phone hacking scandal, the image won harsh--and well-deserved—criticism.

But the underlying point—that the media has largely ignored what's happening in Africa—was well taken.

ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa's deadly and increasingly violent famine.

But that may soon change.

On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold. (Hicks, you may recall, was one of the four New York Times staffers captured in Libya earlier this year.)

Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.

"The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan," Stephanie Strom writes.

"I'm asking myself where is everybody and how loud do I have to yell and from what mountaintop," Caryl Stern, chief executive of the United States Fund for UNICEF, told the paper. "The overwhelming problem is that the American public is not seeing and feeling the urgency of this crisis."

With little-to-no media coverage, relief efforts—and fundraising—have stalled. UNICEF, Stern said, has raised just $5.1 million of its $300 million goal.

On Monday's "World News With Diane Sawyer," David Muir, the lone American TV reporter in Mogadishu, delivered a report from the region. In his segment, Muir recounted some tense moments while covering a gun battle in the capital amid the "worst famine in a generation."

The military convoy Muir was traveling with strayed into a gun battle, and was hit with bullets as soldiers attempted to protect a road for food to arrive for starving refugees.

Al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda, controls part of the city, and has been trying to prevent aid from reaching famine victims.

UPDATE: The Associated Press points out that Jason Straziuso of has been reporting from Somalia since at least July 25.