Thursday, December 11, 2003

Iraqis Rally ... Against Terrorism

Ever since yesterday, when I starting seeing the images, I've been waiting for the headlines to appear. Somewhere. Anywhere. Sadly, nowhere. And I don't get it.

Look at the headlines from yesterday or today online or in print. You will see lot's of talk on the anger by the France, Germany, Russia, et. al. re: exclusion from reconstruction contracts (e.g., here, here and here). You will see lot's about how large portions of the new Iraqi army supposedly quit. You will see that more US soldiers died tragically and that a suicide bomber was thwarted. All important news. But did you ever see anything about the fact that there was a huge anti-terror / pro-democracy rally in Bagdad yesterday? I honestly did not expect the NY Times to cover it. I mean, come on. But I did expect Fox or WSJ to do something with it. Fox did have some images at one point. But no headlines, no frontpage stuff. In fact, I can't find anything about it.

Actually, Jeff Jarvis notes that the Times did cover it....
Well, the New York Times did cover the anti-terrorism demonstration (cover as in how Paris Hilton's clothes cover her, cover as in how well Rudy Guliani's hair covers his head, cover as in cover your ass by putting it in somewhere rather than cover the waterfront, which is supposed to be your job). Don't blink or you'll miss it. I'll spare you the first eight paragraphs of the story. This is the ninth:

In contrast, a heavily policed march in central Baghdad on Wednesday, organized peacefully by the country's major political parties, drew thousands of Iraqis to protest attacks by guerrilla fighters, which have injured and killed Iraqi civilians as well as occupiers.

That's it. Roger Simon asks "Do you think for one moment that if thousands had been marching for Saddam... for the fascists... excuse me "insurgents"... it wouldn't have been front page news?". And Glenn Reynolds thinks the Times coverage is almost harmful... "This kind of ass-covering ("See! We covered it!") is almost worse than not covering it at all. Pathetic."

What is this about? Is it that they want us to lose? Some maybe, but not all. Are they, as suggested, "consciously or unconsciously seeking "vindication" of their anti-war views?" Some maybe, but not all. The breadth of this missed coverage is simply too widespread for these explanations. If Hamas had hundreds march in Gaza, it would be headline news. If Shiites marched in the thousands in Bagdad to protest the occupation, it would be headline news. Why am I so certain....because we have seen it time and time again. But here, thousands marched to protest the "insurgents" and support democracy. Nowhere. Is the media simply not structured well to handle positive news? Is all positive news relegated to exposes or special story assignments?

I have heard that theory before. When no positive news was being reported from Iraq, I heard the explanation that the press is used to reporting bad events... that, for example, here at home, we don't hear about good things being reported typically, just the bad. So that's what reporters are used to doing. I then heard reporters complain that they keep trying to report about good news, but as they work on it, another bomb goes off and they report that.

Well, I say poppycock. What a lame excuse. Sorry, but nothing about Iraq is normal and EVERYTHING that goes on there is news to us back here. We understand our society, so we can figure out that what we read in the papers about events here at home is not representative about everything, just certain events. But that is not true in Iraq. That cars run, that schools are open, that markets are doing business, that hospitals are hiring (or firing), that good and bad things happen ...all news to us. And the choice to report one event over another is simply that...a choice. That another soldier dies is tragic and should be reported but shouldn't pre-empt anything else that is vying for space. Report both. Put it in the same story... who cares. Just report it.

Yet here we have AN EVENT. A march. Thousands of people. And still no mainstream coverage. I only know about it because I read the blogs. And it wouldn't have been possible but for Zayed, who is an Iraqi and who received a camera from Jeff Jarvis, that many people would have known. If you want to see pictures captured by Fox (but again, hardly reported), go to Donald Sensing.

So, we seem to have real problem here.


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