Jewish World Review June 17, 2004 / 28 Sivan, 5764
No news is good news when reporters will only report bad news
The military web logger "Blackfive" is annoyed with the news media for
constantly emphasizing the negative in its coverage of Iraq.
What triggered his ire was an AP story June 14th that began: "A car bomb
shattered a convoy of Westerners in Baghdad Monday, killing at least 13
people, including three General Electric workers and two bodyguards. Crowds
rejoiced over the attack, dancing around a charred body and shouting 'Down
with the USA!'"
The reporter didn't mention until the 23rd paragraph that "Iraqi bystanders
scooped up victims and loaded them into vehicles or pickup trucks to speed
them to hospitals."
The headline could have read: "Iraqis Rescue Ambushed Convoy," Blackfive
noted. But then the story would have reflected the sentiments of Iraqis,
who are grateful to the United States for ousting Saddam, and who want
Coalition forces to stick around. And that is not a story that most in the
news media want to tell.
When the new Iraqi president, Ghazi al-Yawer, publicly thanked the United
States and Great Britain for liberating Iraq, the only television network to
mention it was Fox News.
A story unmentioned by any in the "mainstream" media was the ceremony June
11th at which Major Gen. James Mattis awarded decorations for valor to five
Iraqi soldiers who saved the life of a Marine.
Marines and members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were patrolling Kharma,
a village near Fallujah, May 30th when they were ambushed.
"When gunfire struck one Marine in his lower left leg, ICDC privates Kather
Nazar Abbas and Imad Abid Zeid Jassim rushed to his aid and dragged him to
safety," wrote Gidget Fuentes of the Navy Times. "Both soldiers continued
firing at the enemy gunmen while a Navy corpsman treated the wounded
Marine...The Iraqi soldiers' gunfire and fire support from three other Iraqi
troops ultimately drove the gunmen from the area."
The news media report when Iraqi soldiers and police run away, but not when
they stand and fight.
There is one piece of bad news from Iraq to which the media have given
"A leader of militants in Iraq has purportedly written to Osama bin Laden
saying his fighters are being squeezed by U.S.- led Coalition troops,
according to a statement posted Monday on Islamic web sites," wrote the AP's
Nadia Abou El-Magd June 14th.
"The space of movement is starting to get smaller," said the message,
purportedly from Abu Musab al Zarqawi. "The grip is starting to be
tightened on the holy warrior's necks and, with the spread of soldiers and
police, the future is becoming frightening."
The message is very like one intercepted by Coalition forces in February,
and may merely be a different translation of the same memo. But Zarqawi has
reason for more pessimism in June than he had in February.
"Since we have agreed to stay at arms reach with Fallujah, we have been able
to focus our efforts on the surrounding towns and villages," said Marine
Maj. Dave Bellon in a June 2nd email to his dad. "The result is we have
made great inroads in breaking up insurgent cells through ambushes and
raids. Even more important, we have begun an early and still fragile
rapport with the people of these areas. The areas are historical
sanctuaries for terrorists, so they are important."
Many good things are happening in Iraq. But to learn of them, you have to
read the milblogs, or Iraqi web loggers such as Alaa, Ays, Ali, Omar,
Muhammad and Zeyad.
"To the criticism that they report and overemphasize bad news, reporters
say, correctly, that bad news is news," wrote JWR columnist Michael Barone.
"But in a country like Iraq, ruled by a vicious dictator for the last 35
years, good news is also news.
"Reporters readily fan out to find bad news. But they seldom seek the good
news readily available in Iraqi and military web logs and confirmed in
polls of Iraqis that incomes, electricity, schools, water quality,
medical care, religious freedom and security are improving in Iraq.
"Some reporters, as the Daily Telegraph's Toby Harnden reports from Iraq,
deliberately avoid good news because they think it might help George W. Bush
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
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