Thursday, October 21, 2004

322,500,000 stories from Iraq you missed out on recently 

In my last "Good news from Iraq" feature I have written perhaps more extensively than previously about media's "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality and the in-built bias for reporting the negative. It is, of course, hardly surprising that anything commonly considered to be out of the ordinary state of affairs (violence, terror, controversy, corruption) tends to attract media's attention. After all, as the argument would go, we need to be informed about the one murder in Smallville, Kentucky, not about the other 999 residents who haven't been killed that day. Yet, however correct this argument might be, it is also quite clear that a continuing emphasis on the negative gives us a skewed, pessimistic overall view of events around us.

A few days ago, 18 soldiers with the 343rd Quartermaster Company in Iraq refused to carry out orders and proceed with their convoy. It was the first mutiny of this kind during the current conflict.

As of the last count, Google News lists
1,900 news stories relating to this incident.

Since March 2003, there have been
175,000 similar such convoy missions conducted in Iraq without troops involved refusing their orders.

Based on this ratio, over the last year and a half we didn't see 322,500,000 news stories about the convoys successfully conducted.

Any wonder it is so difficult for outside observers to maintain a proper perspective on events in Iraq?


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