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Getting Out Of The Bunker

More of this please.

New York Times - Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, has received the same e-mail message a dozen times over the last year.

"Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?" the anonymous polemic asks, in part. "Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated?"

"Of course we didn't know!" the message concludes. "Our media doesn't tell us!"

Ms. Goudreau's newspaper, like most dailies in America, relies largely on The Associated Press for its coverage of the Iraq war. So she finally forwarded the e-mail message to Mike Silverman, managing editor of The A.P., asking if there was a way to check these assertions and to put them into context. Like many other journalists, Mr. Silverman had also received a copy of the message.

Ms. Goudreau's query prompted an unusual discussion last month in New York at a regular meeting of editors whose newspapers are members of The Associated Press. Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls.

"The bottom-line question was, people wanted to know if we're making progress in Iraq," Ms. Goudreau said, and the A.P. articles were not helping to answer that question.

"It was uncomfortable questioning The A.P., knowing that Iraq is such a dangerous place," she said. "But there's a perception that we're not telling the whole story."

I'm glad that their having this discussion, but the "its to dangerous to leave the bunker [read: hotel - ed.]" excuse is bunk. Covering good news like the rebuilding of schools and infrastructure and the re-establishment of embassies (I hadn't even heard that one) isn't any more dangerous than covering IED attacks and convoy ambushes.

The fact that the media isn't covering the good news is a combination of a "if it bleeds it leads" approach to reporting and a pervasive anti-war bias. Because they could be covering the good news, if they really wanted to.

By Rob Port of Say Anything.


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Comments (5)

Is it more dangerous to cov... (Below threshold)

Is it more dangerous to cover schools than IEDs? Yes and no. Depends on whether each subject matter involves briefings from a talking head or actually going on site to conduct interviews.

--|PW|--

I think you are being a lit... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

I think you are being a little too harsh in blaming the current state of reporting affairs entirely on the “if it bleeds it leads” and an anti war mentalities.

I suspect a large part of what we are seeing is caused by a pay check-to-pay check, corporate climbing mentality in many of the reporters in Iraq.

They are marginally content to sit in their air conditioned hotel rooms, in the middle of the old “Green Zone”, enjoy one fine meal a day (on the company’s dime), and build up some foreign correspondent/war zone credentials to inflate their resumes in hopes of future rewards/gravy.

Not that there is anything wrong with that…..

I just think you are expecting too much out of some spoiled professionals.

I sort of agree with jamste... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I sort of agree with jamster. My experience with the press is that reporting the news and facts is about last on their agenda.

Sometimes they have a political axe to grind or they just want to punch their "war zone" ticket to maybe get a shot at the cushy anchor job.

One day, journalists might climb up out of their cess pool to garner the same respect as ambulance chasing lawyers or con artists...but that's a long way up the chain for them...

Covering good news like... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Covering good news like the rebuilding of schools and infrastructure and the re-establishment of embassies (I hadn't even heard that one) isn't any more dangerous than covering IED attacks and convoy ambushes.

Depends on who you are hanging out with.

I doubt they would be well received if they showed up at a school with their terrorist buddies.

And, why leave the bar when you can just pay someone to tell you what you should twist into a story?

Is it more dangerous to ... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Is it more dangerous to cover schools than IEDs? Yes and no. Depends on whether each subject matter involves briefings from a talking head or actually going on site to conduct interviews.

Do you know this for a fact?

Outside of Anbar and a few cities it actually is pretty safe to go onsite to a school. Being around IED's pretty much guarantees that you are in a dangerous area filled with AIF. Being around schools pretty much guarantees you will be around school children -- like anywhere else in the world.

There are very safe areas, in fact they far outnumber the unsafe areas. But, the reporters don't get out to see the safe areas, that would take effort and their editors would just kill the story.




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