Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reporting on Iraq

Those who have been so eager to upbraid the "liberal media" for it's failure to cover all the "good news" coming out of Iraq should be aware that they have also maligned the Iraqi stringers who have put their lives on the line to tell otherwise ignorant or indifferent Americans what's been going on in their country:

For the Iraqi stringers who risk their lives and often are forced to hide what they do from friends and family, typically without even the glory of a byline in return, the answer to the question of why they do it is complicated. In a country impoverished by decades of war, criminal dictatorship, and international sanctions, money was often the principal draw, at least initially. Drawn from the ranks of college-educated professionals — accountants, professors, doctors, computer experts — the stringers can sometimes more than double what the average Iraqi earns in postwar Iraq.

Yes, it is. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, of the sixty-one journalists killed in Iraq from the beginning of the war in March 2003 through February 2006, forty-two were native Iraqis. In addition, twenty-three media workers — drivers, translators, and so forth — have been killed in Iraq.

...Critics of the press’s coverage of the war in Iraq often grumble that American journalists are obsessed with reporting “bad news,” while ignoring the “good.” To many of the Iraqis working for the U.S. media, this seems irrelevant, even absurd. Ahmed, an owlish thirty-one-year-old who taught poetry at a local university before the war and who now works for an American newspaper chain, shrugged and said, “It’s true that journalists here are mostly writing about the bad. But when you have a hotel being built in Najaf and a kidnapping of a female journalist in Baghdad, what are you going to do? The bad news eclipses the good news.”

Assad, who works for an American magazine, has an even darker view. “There is no peace, there is no reconstruction, there is no rebuilding to write about,” he said, over lunch at his employer’s compound. “I have only seen the reconstruction of the Green Zone, and that is for the Americans.”

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