What Would the War Look Like If Reporters Could Really Report What They Saw
The Editor and Publisher has a column about a survey they reported on last week from 210 journalists who have reported from Iraq on what they think about the war coverage. Today there is a follow-up column noting some of the comments from these reporters, many who believe the war coverage has not reflected the reality that they have seen. Stories about the civilian deaths have been routinely suppressed. A report about how many in one National Guard unit expressed fear caused a major backlash from the higher ups.
I want to get to their specific comments, but the report summarized the numerical findings this way: "Many media outlets have self-censored their reporting on the conflict in Iraq because of concern about public reaction to graphic images and details about the war." The raw results are difficult to interpret, and many respondents reported no problems, but most troubling was a finding that nearly one in six of those who covered the war "said on one or more occasions their organizations edited material for publication and they did not believe the final version accurately represented the story."
[What follows are some of the comments:]
..."On some occasions, the reports were subtly edited to make them less negative and more in line with official views. This was not systematic, though."
"The real damage of the war on the civilian population was uniformly omitted."
"I think we sanitized the images too much so that people do not see the reality of war."
"There was excessive pressure to show the 'good news’ in Iraq."
Americas have been getting a raft of "good news" stories this week about how great things are going in Iraq. Including the story yesterday about how Fallujah is the safest city in Iraq now. Of course, you had to dig just a little bit more to see that it is because Fallujah is essentially a prison today.
Read the E&P column to see why what you see isn't exactly a reflection of reality.