Sunday, October 12, 2008

Journalists in Iraq

There's an interesting article in the Washington Post about how the news media is pulling out of Iraq. All the news bureaus are getting smaller, if not pulling out entirely. The reasons:
- The stories are fundamentally more about politics than about combat.
- Developments are nuanced and require an understanding of who's doing what to/with/for whom, as well as why.
- It's expensive to keep people here and expensive for them to operate.
- Afghanistan and Pakistan are heating up.
- The military isn't taking "embeds" into combat operations anymore.

In other words, there's less blood and gore. Things are calmer. The Iraqis are working to put their country back together again (maybe not very well, and certainly not to our standards, but they're doing it). Reconstruction is a long, slow slog. Understanding why and how things develop (or don't) requires time. Spelling that out for the general readership at home also requires time.

So our news outlets don't do it. If they can't shock the nightly viewers with scenes from Iraq anymore, then they'll go find another war to write about.

Last year you'd read a headline along the lines of "75 KILLED IN BAGHDAD MARKET!", along with a required photo of a crying child next to their mother's dead body. Today, the story is "150,000 PEOPLE GET CLEAN RUNNING WATER!". Think you'll read that in the paper?

Uh, no. But your tax dollars are payng for it. And the story is just as important.

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