Sunday, February 27, 2005

Reviewing the Strib's Iraq Coverage

Star Tribune reader's representative Kate Parry penned a column about the newspaper's coverage on Iraq. I won't reproduce any of it here (it is worth reading the whole thing), I just have a couple of comments.

First, she points out that the ratio of stories reporting problems vs. reporting progress are about 2:1 in favor of reporting problems, even though the period she surveyed included the Iraqi election (photos are just about even, with a slight edge on positive items). She considers this to be proof that the positive things in Iraq are not completely uncovered - true enough. Its the proportion and tone of the coverage that bothers a lot of people. She also writes that she viewed the tone of the Iraqi election coverage as "
somewhat subdued and grudging after weeks of speculation on the likelihood of big problems on election day." That is rather refreshing, given the unwillingness of many in journalism to even entertain the idea of unbalanced reporting from Iraq.

She then points out that the Strib gets its Iraq coverage mostly from the wire services and other newspapers, and the Strib's policy is to find stories "showing the full gamut of life in Iraq" and that bombings and deaths tend to dominate the wire services. Given that the Star Tribune does not have the resources of a New York Times or Washington Post, I can understand a dependence on wire service reporting. I also understand the reluctance of reporters to leave the relative security of the Green Zone in Baghdad to go to other parts of Iraq, as the Sunni triangle is a dangerous place these days. What I don't undestand is why the more peaceful areas of Iraq can't be covered by traveling through Turkey, Jordan,Syria, or Kuwait to get there. The Star Tribune may not be at fault for this, but the organizations reporting out of Iraq certainly are.

Update: I added the forgotten link to Kate Parry's column

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