News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Reporting War

Monday, December 26, 2005

Reporting War

The Washington Post is now reporting on unembedded US reporters who are trying to get out the real story of Iraq. The article decries the negative reports on Iraq in the US press, and chronicles the efforts of an American blogger to go to Iraq and bring the real story of US military operations there, especially the building efforts underway which are headed by US troops and contractors.

The article wants to present an objective reflection of the US military operation...

Unfortunately, the US military has not allowed anything except pro-American reports to leave the area. I applaud the effort to present objective information about this war. But to get this information, I have to rely on foreign news sources, mostly Arabic sources.

The Washington Post article assumes--like the US military does--that these reports from Arab news media are biased and unobjective. This Post article even implies that all Arab news is suspect since it supposedly plays into the insurgents' and terrorists' propaganda. Another way to look at it is to see that these sources are simply reporting the facts--facts which often go against the rosy picture that the US military and US politicians would like to present.

No doubt, showing pictures of families blown apart by US aerial bombardment creates anger among viewers--the reason that you have never seen any of these photos and pictures on US media outlets, nor can you expect to any time soon.

The US military appears to want to have the news war its own way. It has obviously failed to gain the hearts and minds of the Iraqi populace. Yet it has a captive audience at home where little reporting beyond simple numbers that refer to faceless, nameless American casualities and insurgent bombings makes its way into 24/7 TV news feeds.

It seems that the US TV news media have simply thrown in the towel in covering this war. Realizing that they will generate great uproar among viewers on both sides of this issue, they just rely on a general, vague, unfocused coverage of the war.

Except for scandals such as torture and Abu Ghraib, you cannot expect to find true war coverage in the US media. True war coverage involves not only presenting the side of the soldier but also of the enemy. It should also, perhaps most importantly, report on the civilians who suffer either way--from enemy and friend alike.

If the military were interested in objective war coverage in Iraq, it would not be running its own propaganda effort to place pro-US articles in Iraqi news media. It would better use that money to support Arabic sources, whose reporting follows western standards more than the military or the western media are willing to admit.

Repsonsibility for information coming from this war should be practised by all news sources. For the military to bitch about stories that do not always fit their scenario seems more than disingenuous, however. They have exercised immense control over the flow of information coming from this war. Indeed, this control is probably unprecedented in the annals of modern warfare.

That their stories do not get to the general Arab public is once again an indication of what they have simply failed to do in Iraq itself: gain the trust of the everyday Arab public.

2 comments:

Buck Pennington said...

For the military to bitch about stories that do not always fit their scenario seems more than disingenuous, however. They have exercised immense control over the flow of information coming from this war. Indeed, this control is probably unprecedented in the annals of modern warfare.

You are completely clue-free, unless you define "modern warfare" as beginning sometime around the first of the year.

the cynic librarian said...

Buck, Thanks for the clue... I do not think that any time past has had the technological tools to provide the type of comprehensive blackout that the military has imposed on the US press.