Saturday, November 20, 2010

The World’s Crisis in War Reporting

By Don North, Consortium News, November 18, 2010 

At this complex and dangerous moment in history, we must recognize that journalists around the world are failing in their duty as watchdogs of the people and that – combined with economic stresses – the traditional role of journalism is diminishing. 

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As journalists are laid off and newspapers cut back or shut down, whole sectors of our civic life disappear from public view and go dark. Much of local and state governments, whole federal departments, and the world itself are neglected.

Politicians are working increasingly without independent scrutiny and without public accountability. Perhaps most alarmingly, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism abroad go underreported despite the billions of dollars spent and the tens of thousands of lives lost.

And it often isn’t much better when the major U.S. news media does provide saturation coverage. During President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, American journalists – with only a few exceptions – failed to respond, first, to the challenge of scrutinizing the case for war and, then, to the political and military failures during the war.

At times the U.S. media’s coverage made one think that the Pentagon could have skipped the middlemen and simply supplied the news feeds itself.

‘Embedded’ Journalists
In those first heady days of the conflict, “embedded” journalists excitedly broadcast green-tinted, night-vision action footage as they traveled on U.S. Army personnel carriers racing through the Iraqi desert.

Meanwhile, cable networks MSNBC and Fox News superimposed waving American flags on news scenes from Iraq and ran special packages of patriotic war images with stirring music and heroic titles.

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