News coverage

I thought I should make a comment on the sources of reports. Initially, when the problems started, the hotels experienced a departure of guests, but over the last few days, the foreign press have really wound up their presence. Some of these will be seasoned veterans and some Dili old hands, but some will be green reporters looking for some action.

They will be doing their best. The Hotel Timor coffee shop will probably be the centre of a lot of activity. Perhaps the Hotel Dili and Turismo as well. During the day, the boys will be able to get around the central area near the seafront and I presume there will be a bit of story swapping.

As far as official statements go, I only know of UN statements. I know someone who works in the government information office but I also know this acquaintance has left the country and that many government departments are closed or at least not functioning too well at the moment.

The politicians themselves will decide when and where they will make statements.

Now when we are talking about yesterday’s police vs. FDTL stoush, that is only about 1 km from the Hotel Timor. And as it involved UN police (UNPOL), it was subject to an official UN statement with quite respectable detail.

But the other conflicts really do not have any official mouthpieces to report on them. The local TV did not report on any conflict yesterday, but the Portuguese TV news was full of it. That is, the news from Portugal that is re-broadcast on the local TV station.

The Portuguese (LUSA) press have a long standing presence here and will have many long-standing contacts and I expect it to be the most comprehensive for that reason. If you know someone who can understand Portuguese, this is a good start.

A lot of the rest comes from the informal network that is just so strong here. Inevitably, someone close to a particular event will spread the word or more often, hear from a local about something that has happened near their home etc. The embassies have their contacts and usually defence personnel whose job is to find out what is going on. A lot of this information is fed back through regular contact by email or phone network text message.

In the end, if you are interested and read, listen and ask appropriate questions, things start falling into place. Now that the OZ force is on the ground and a large contingent of press, I expect a fair bit of “embedded” stuff and a lot more details than I could ever bring.

I listened to OZ ABC’s PM program tonight and the Asia Pacific current affairs program after it and I thought the coverage pretty good. The analysis seems well up there now. There are still many small scale tragedies that have happened but alas, will remain unreported.