Pew: Media stopped reporting on Iraq when the news got better

posted at 6:35 pm on March 27, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

A new analysis from Pew Research doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know — that the news media has an agenda, one which does not include progress in Iraq. Starting on May 24, 2007, the news media starting ignoring the story after the Democrats surrendered on the funding, but the effort to ignore it really started in earnest after Generl David Petraeus reported progress on all fronts in September of that year. Instead of Hillary Clinton’s “willing suspension of disbelief”, we got a willing suspension of coverage:

From January 2007 — when Bush announced the “surge” — through the end of May 2007, Iraq had been the dominant story, accounting for 20% of all the news coverage measured by PEJ’s News Coverage Index. But from the time of that May funding vote through the war’s fifth anniversary on March 19, 2008, coverage plunged by about 50%. In that period, the media paid more than twice as much attention to the presidential campaign as it did to the war.

All that helps explain another eye-catching statistic. In the first three months of 2008, coverage of the campaign outstripped coverage of the war by a margin of more than 10-to-1 (43% of the newshole compared with 4%). In an environment in which newsroom cutbacks and decreasing resources may make it more difficult for news outlets to stay atop two ongoing mega-stories, the media, for now, have made their priorities clear. …

But there is another key reason why the war has virtually disappeared from the headlines and talk shows these days — and that’s the situation inside Iraq itself. The reduction in violence on the ground that began late last year has coincided with a significant decrease in coverage from the war zone as well.

Through the first half of 2007, about half the stories from Iraq examined in a PEJ study were about the continuing drumbeat of daily violence. From July through October, that number fell to a little more than one-third. In November, stories filed from Iraq began to take greater notice of the surge’s success in reducing violence, even as the volume of coverage tapered off, evidence perhaps of the old adage that no news is good news.

I’d suspect that the adage here should be Good news is no news. Certainly, the other journalistic adage of “If it bleeds, it leads” applies here. The lack of explosive material leaves editors with less gripping but more balanced accounts of improved life in Iraq. However, don’t the media have a responsibility to cover that as well, especially since the war in Iraq continues to be a compelling issue in American politics?

Pew excuses the lack of coverage on the very real risks that journalists face in Iraq. However, they could minimize those risks by following the example of other journalists and embed with the troops, both in the rear and on the front lines in Iraq. Michael Yon and Michael Totten have both made careers of doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan, as have other independents.

Why haven’t the mainstream media outlets done the same in order to get the stories that Yon routinely reports? They did at the beginning of the war, during the invasion. They felt that it made the correspondents too attached to the soldiers, resulting in reporting that supported the war. The alternative is to have reporters holed up in the Green Zone or for them to run unnecessary risks by moving around Iraq without any protection at all. Those risks have diminished, thanks to the progress made over the last nine months, but they still exist.

Their other option would be to find reliable correspondents in the military ranks. Groups like Vets for Freedom feature veterans of Iraq speaking on behalf of the war, and the first complaint they air is that the media isn’t talking with the soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen who have fought in Iraq. That has more risk of subjective reporting in various directions, but it’s safe to say that if the media isn’t where the troops are, they can’t report reliably on what they see.

None of this is new, and the analysis from Pew was hardly unexpected. Confirmation helps.


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One word: DUH!

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:38 PM

well you could just knock me over with a feather

Mojack420 on March 27, 2008 at 6:39 PM

“… coverage plunged by about 50%.”

Media bias? WHAT media bias???

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:40 PM

YOU SAY…
Eddy!
http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/
Olde soldier sends…!

J_Gocht on March 27, 2008 at 6:42 PM

Good news is no news

Har!

RushBaby on March 27, 2008 at 6:44 PM

I don’t think any of us needed a pollster to tell us this.

However, AQI reads the polls I suspect and we’ll see more violence and reporting as elections get close.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 6:45 PM

“Groups like Vets for Freedom feature veterans of Iraq speaking on behalf of the war …”

Tuesday, April 8th, 9:30-11:00am at the Capitol! I hope to meet some of my HotAir friends, I’ll be there with the beautiful Mrs.737 and deadly cute BabyGirl737! See ya there, HotHeads! :-)

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM

MSM News only gets reported after it meets the Soros editorial board review standards.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM

Actualy simple…

The news organizations are not in the business of actualy reporting NEWS that informs… its all about ratings…

If it Bleeds? It Leads…. is a real saying in the news industry…

Less bleeding? Less leading…

The problem is that the Press trys to put itself on a pedastal, when it is nothing more than a business.

Romeo13 on March 27, 2008 at 6:50 PM

The time is past due to begin naming some in the media who qualify and have qualified as “the enemy within.” I’m sick of some of these treasonous Basturds. When they aid and comfort the enemy, we should begin to call them out on it.

Travis1 on March 27, 2008 at 6:53 PM

Tuesday, April 8th, 9:30-11:00am at the Capitol! I hope to meet some of my HotAir friends, I’ll be there with the beautiful Mrs.737 and deadly cute BabyGirl737! See ya there, HotHeads! :-)

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM

Godspeed, Tony. I can’t be there so I’ll have to settle for being square :)

silverfox on March 27, 2008 at 6:55 PM

The sun rose in the East, here in San Diego, today.

Also, the media, as it was, is getting more and more irrelevant, without having internalized it yet.

Entelechy on March 27, 2008 at 6:55 PM

All that helps explain another eye-catching statistic. In the first three months of 2008, coverage of the campaign outstripped coverage of the war by a margin of more than 10-to-1 (43% of the newshole compared with 4%).

Pew said “newshole.” Heh-mmmm-heh-heh.
/beavis

Cuffy Meigs on March 27, 2008 at 6:58 PM

As Gomer Pyle would say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

CyberCipher on March 27, 2008 at 7:00 PM

But…but….but I thought NOTHING was getting better?

Bishop on March 27, 2008 at 7:02 PM

Pew said “newshole.” Heh-mmmm-heh-heh.
/beavis

Cuffy Meigs on March 27, 2008 at 6:58 PM

I’m sure some here would eagerly apply designation that to certain cable anchors.

mikeyboss on March 27, 2008 at 7:03 PM

Ed…
Do you folks have even the smallest clue…?
Do you ever bother to read the daily “Sit Reps” intelligence reports?
http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/

It’s my way or the highway! President George W. Bush, says…
Don’t bother me with facts, you simple jerkbahs!

What’s a good General Petraeus to do?
Reporting to congress in two weeks?

Olde soldier sends…
jgocht@countryspeed.com

J_Gocht on March 27, 2008 at 7:04 PM

well there is some bad news today, Fox just lead with it.

jp on March 27, 2008 at 7:05 PM

Media stopped reporting on Iraq when the news got better

For me, the liberal media is irrelevant, it’s like the plot of a porn movie.

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:05 PM

…unless ya KNOW WHERE TO LOOK.

Akzed on March 27, 2008 at 7:07 PM

If we had the News Media that we have today during WWII, I have no doubts that we would have lost.

Chakra Hammer on March 27, 2008 at 7:11 PM

it’s like the plot of a porn movie.

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:05 PM

But you just can’t stop watching or turn away.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 7:12 PM

“… coverage plunged by about 50%.”

Media bias? WHAT media bias??? The ones who didn’t bother to vet The Obama at all?

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:40 PM

Sadder, “Jetboy,” poster doesn’t even see the need for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Too worried about making sure illegals stay in US for his cheap (deflation) labor…..

“I am shocked; shocked to find gambling here.” “Your winnings sir…”

Branch Rickey on March 27, 2008 at 7:22 PM

Could you imagine the news media of today reporting Normandy, and if the President was a Republican?

OMG! A huge defeat for America! Massive loss of lives!
Was it worth the cost of loves?

They had our babies flying in on gliders, aging against the German machine guns! WAH!

Chakra Hammer on March 27, 2008 at 7:23 PM

Be very,very quite about Irag,we don’t want to encourage
anymore distraction’s thats going on in the Liberal Party’s
civil war,ssshhhh if Moonbats get a whiff of good or bad news they might be distracted,ssshhhhhhh let the Liberals
keep driving over the cliff of despair!

canopfor on March 27, 2008 at 7:24 PM

it’s like the plot of a porn movie.

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:05 PM

But you just can’t stop watching or turn away.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 7:12 PM

Sure I can turn away.

In fact I had to.

It gets busy.

Need I go through details?

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:25 PM

The Normandy Blunder “Operation Overlord”, what does he think he is GOD!!!? >:D

Chakra Hammer on March 27, 2008 at 7:25 PM

If this was World War two,loose lips sinks ships,
a lot of media reporting now as carefree as they are,
there would of been overtime shifts in the firingsquad
business!

canopfor on March 27, 2008 at 7:27 PM

Need I go through details?

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:25 PM

No, details don’t matter. Visual, just the visual.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 7:31 PM

If it bleeds, it leads” applies here. The lack of explosive material leaves editors with less gripping but more balanced accounts of improved life in Iraq. However, don’t the media have a responsibility to cover that as well, especially since the war in Iraq continues to be a compelling issue in American politics?

Commercial media have a responsibility to no one but the advertizers. The only agenda here is $ and cents.

Grow Fins on March 27, 2008 at 7:42 PM

Need I go through details?

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:25 PM

No, details don’t matter. Visual, just the visual.

Kini on March 27, 2008 at 7:31 PM

Sometimes imagination is wilder.

Indy Conservative on March 27, 2008 at 7:45 PM

Maybe if a few wombats got killed….

locomotivebreath1901 on March 27, 2008 at 8:14 PM

What is one to say? MSM stinks up the joint? Like everyone doesn’t already know.

Hog Wild on March 27, 2008 at 8:43 PM

Tuesday, April 8th, 9:30-11:00am at the Capitol! I hope to meet some of my HotAir friends, I’ll be there with the beautiful Mrs.737 and deadly cute BabyGirl737! See ya there, HotHeads! :-)

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM

Godspeed, Tony. I can’t be there so I’ll have to settle for being square :) – silverfox on March 27, 2008 at 6:55 PM

Aww, that’s too bad Silver. It’s gonna be a blast! I sent an e-mail to Brian Stann, inviting him to join us. How cool would THAT be???

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 8:47 PM

Maybe if a few wombats got killed. – locomotive

I never knew those things were so damn UGLY ’til I saw the one on HotAir!

Tony737 on March 27, 2008 at 8:49 PM

Well they are busy gleefully reporting again since the Basra business and seem to be enjoying every minute of it.

jeanie on March 27, 2008 at 9:25 PM

Is it “Good news is no news” or “No news is good news”? I forget…

TheCulturalist on March 28, 2008 at 1:07 AM

DARWIN’S LAW OF POLITICS: He who beats his sword into a plowshare usually ends up plowing for those who’ve kept their swords. (Based on a statement from http://www.ahajokes.com/ bus059.html)

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 28, 2008 at 2:27 AM