Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lack Of Real Journalism From Iraq

One of the criticisms of news via blog versus the mainstream media is the lack of "on the ground" reporting from blogs. From the Rathergate scandal, a reference was made to bloggers as "guys in pajamas" in an attempt to conjure a Monday-morning quarterback image.

For some issues, though, it doesn't seem that the mainstream media does much better. There is an interesting post on Strategy Page about the lack of imbedded reporters in Iraq. The article notes:
Most journalists are in the Green Zone, or some well-guarded hotel. There, they depend on Iraqi stringers to gather information, and take pictures for them. In reality, these reporters could do this from back home, and many more media organizations are doing just that.

Nothing new about using local stringers in dangerous areas. It's common sense, given that the bad guys are in the habit of kidnapping, or just killing, foreign reporters. The problem is, the pool of available Iraqi talent is mostly Sunni Arab. Many of these folks side with the bad guys. And all Iraqi journalists, especially those working for foreigners, are subject to intimidation, or bribery. While some of the foreign reporters may be aware of all this, some aren't, and many of the rest don't care. The truth won't set them free, but supplying stories their editors are looking for, will.
I find the lack of priority to be appalling. I was shocked to learn that there are only 9 imbedded reporters (hat tip Instapundit) currently in Iraq.
Here’s the chart (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) showing who the nine embedded reporters were covering all of Iraq on 9/19/2006. You’ll see that of those 9 reporters, 3 were from the Armed Forces’ Stars & Stripes, 1 from AFN (Armed Force Network), 1 from the Charlotte Observer, 1 from the BBC, 1 from the AP, 1 from RAI, and 1 from Polish Radio. All the rest of the “coverage” of the Iraq war on that day came from reporters hunkered down in the hotels and other locations under the rubric “Baghdad News Bureaus.”
Only one AP reporter? Almost half of the embedded reporters are from military newspapers?

The next time you read a doom-and-gloom article about how bad things are in Iraq, realize that the person writing it doesn't do so with first-hand knowledge. Is that really reporting?