Monday, December 29, 2008

Iraq Fading From Network News Coverage

The New York Times reports that the major television networks have drastically scaled back news operations in Iraq. The piece reports that media action is now focused on Afghanistan, where observers expect the incoming Barack Obama administration to shift focus in foreign and military policy:

Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.

“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces.

Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau.

At the same time that news organizations are trimming in Iraq, the television networks are trying to add newspeople in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with expectations that the Obama administration will focus on the conflict there.

Of course, the Iraq war has evolved and violence in the country has subsided. At the same time, President-elect Barack Obama and senior military strategists generally agree that tensions have risen in Afghanistan, leading to more violence and unrest.

In short, the story, certainly on television, is shifting to Afghanistan.

CNN now has a reporter assigned to the country at all times.

Michael Yon, an independent reporter who relies on contributions from Internet users to report from both areas of conflict, has already perceived a shift in both media and reader attention from Iraq to Afghanistan. “Afghanistan was the forgotten war; that’s what they were calling it, actually,” he said. “Now it’s swapping places with Iraq.”

For Mr. Yon and others who continue to cover Iraq, the cutbacks are a disheartening reminder of the war’s diminishing profile at a time when about 130,000 United States service members remain on duty there. More than 4,200 Americans and an undetermined number of Iraqis have died in fighting there since 2003.
The Times might have delved deeper on the topic by offering an explanation for the declining media coverage. While the war is ongoing, operations might now be described as "post major-counterinsurgency." We will continue to have violence, and significant insurgency operations such as suicide bombings are likely. But the difference in Iraq from two years ago is phenomenal. Security has improved, civic and cultural institutions are being rejuvenated, and political accommodation is occuring. In short, the war has been won, and most in the media, while loathe to admit it, are shifting to where strategic uncertainty makes for more dramatic television news.

Michael Yon, who is interviewd at the Times' piece, has written on the
shift in focus from Iraq to Afghanstan, for example:

The war in Iraq has ended. Violent elements remain, but they no longer threaten the very fabric of Iraq. The Iraqi Army, police and government continue to outpace the elements that would prefer to see Iraq in chaos. Iraq is no longer an enemy. There is no reason for us to ever shoot at each other again. But Afghanistan is a different story. I write these words from Kandahar, in the south. This war here is just getting started. Likely we will see severe fighting kicking off by about April of 2009. Iraq is on the mend, but victory in Afghanistan is very much in question.

4 comments:

Red, White, and Blue Patriot said...

That's BS there is only one reason the media isn't covering Iraq, it's not that these multi-million dollar coporations with hundreds of thousands of people employed by them can't spare any money or reporters it is because they don't want to show what a great job the military has done. They don't want America to succed. Why? They are liberals.

Donald Douglas said...

RWB Patriot: The war's winding down and blood sells on TV. Of course, I agree they didn't really want the U.S. to win.

Grace Explosion said...

Do they not want America to know that troops are still in Iraq - even as Obama said he'd get them out?? lol It's all propaganda. They are not going to make our troops in Iraq an issue now. If the buck stops with Obama, the facts of our troops in Iraq have to be covered up, faded into the background, and shown in a different light. They don't report the news: they slant the news; they spin the news. There will be entirely new slants and spins now on the troops in Iraq and selective coverage of what is reported. Propaganda, imo - just propaganda.

Grace.

Donald Douglas said...

"They don't report the news: they slant the news; they spin the news."

Well said, Grace!