Friday, January 20, 2006

My issue with the "Rights" arguments about reporting in Iraq

I'm a talk radio junkie. I love being "plugged in" to what is going on. I love hearing the talking heads go at it. I love laughing when Rush, Shawn, and Bill try to act like they know what they're talking about. Needless to say, I listen to talk radio a lot.
Recently, Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor in Iraq, was kidnapped and is not being held hostage. Carrol grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and with myself being from the greater metro Detroit area, took particular interest in this story.
How does this relate to talk radio? I'll tell you.
The right time and time again says no one reports about the good things that happen in Iraq. No one reports about the schools opening up. No one reports about when a hospital is allowed to reopen. No one reports about when a park is built for kids to play in. The only things that are reported are explosions, bombings, deaths, missile strikes, and kidnappings. Anyone who watches the news knows that the networks love dumb, cute, easy to manufacture stories. Take baby Noor for example. It's great we're helping her out, but it's an easy story to report. No moral issues. Nice sound bites. Easy to produce video segments on. How many times do we see stories about surfing dogs on local news? Or a story about a little girl who's earning money to buy armor for troops in Iraq by selling cookies? News outlets love stories like this. So, I don't think that the major networks are ignoring doing stories about all the good going on in Iraq, there has to be something preventing them from doing so.
I took a little bit to think about that for a moment. What would be preventing them?  One need only turn in CNN, MSNBC, or FOX to notice that all reporters are in the "green zone." The "green zone" is the heavily fortified area in Iraq that houses all of the important Iraq Ministries and US centers of operation. It's supposed to be the safest area of Iraq. Why would they stay there? I think the answer to that question is that, it's not safe to leave. According to Editor & Publisher, as of January 7th, 2006, "a total of 76 journalists and media staff have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003."
76 journalists. Not aid workers. Not troops. Journalists. These are people trying to tell the story of Iraq. Now, Jill Carroll has been added to the list of kidnapped employees, and unfortunately, I think the odds are she will become the 77th journalist killed. The right wants to know about why no one is reporting about the schools, playgrounds, and hospitals? It's because reporting that is not worth risking your life over.
You see, the largest networks have the money to pay for security forces to escort their reporters around. So, on the rare occasions you see a CNN, MSNBC, or FOX reporter out in Iraq reporting from rural areas, just off camera is 5-20 security forces protecting them. The major networks aren't going to do this every day. Security forces cost money, and the news outlets need to turn a profit, so they're not going to do stories like this a lot. In addition, they want to be able to do a story they can repeat over and over and over again and over analyze time and time again. They're not going to do a story about a school. How many times can that be shown? Reporters like Jill don't have security forces. She probably had two or three people with her, if that. One of them was probably a translator. Another might have been a guide. She was kidnapped, and it's easy to see why.
Iraq isn't safe for reporters, and I can't even begin to fathom what it's like for Iraqis. The story isn't why we're not reporting on schools, but why we CAN'T report in schools. The story isn't why we're not reporting in the new hospital, but why we CAN'T report on the hospital. It's not about the playground, it's about why we're NOT there at the play ground. This is the real story. This is the real issue.
Iraq isn't safe.
I hope Jill comes home safe.
I hope all of our troops come home safe.
They're doing good work, it's a shame their leaders are morons.


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