Thursday, January 26, 2006

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

So what if they gave a war and nobody came to cover it?

Via a Howard Kurtz column, comes this information about news coverage in Iraq:

Getting a room wasn't a problem; while the hotel used to be full of journalists, many either left the country after the December elections or were pulled out by their publications, which have been cutting back on Baghdad staff as things have gotten progressively more dangerous. The day I checked in, the only people I saw were a few middle-aged Iraqi men in leather jackets forlornly smoking by the front desk, and a lonely cafeteria attendant, sitting at his cash register watching a soap opera.

In fact, I didn't see any Westerners at all until my second day, when I contacted the acting bureau chief for an American paper who was staying in my hotel. As we were discussing the state of reporting in Baghdad and Iraq in general, he told me that I was a little late to the game. These days, more American reporters are leaving Iraq than arriving. In large part, for the U.S. press, "The party's pretty much over."
You know, I could beat my head into a wall despairing of the media understanding warfare and reporting on what is happening as opposed to just police-blottering the war.

But I guess the enemy's continued targetting of journalists for kidnapping or death (35 died in Iraq in 2005), like its targetting of Moslems in terror attacks, will backfire on them too. By driving out most of the clueless reporters, there will naturally be a decline in clueless reporting. Absent any prospects for good reporting, I guess I'll settle for less reporting.

Remember what mom said. If you can't say anything nice about somebody, don't say anything at all.