Monday, March 14, 2005

Iraq - "just news"? 

A latest study discusses the question of bias in reporting from Iraq:

"A study of news coverage of the war in Iraq fails to support a conclusion that events were portrayed either negatively or positively most of the time.

"The Project for Excellence in Journalism looked at nearly 2,200 stories on television, newspapers and Web sites and found that most of them couldn't be categorized either way.

"Twenty-five percent of the stories were negative and 20 percent were positive, according to the study, released Sunday by the Washington-based think tank."
The report continues: "Despite the exhaustive look, the study likely won't change the minds of war supporters who considered the media hostile to the Bush administration, or opponents who think reporters weren't questioning enough, said Tom Rosenstiel, the project's director. 'There was enough of both to annoy both camps,' he said. 'But the majority of stories were just news'."

Well, yes, it is just news, but is that really the problem here?
California Yankee reminds me of a much less scientific study I conducted a few months ago, which in Kevin Aylward's additional calculations gave a ratio of 27 negative stories for every one positive.

Herein lies the crux of the problem: the news of another suicide attack might actually be "just news" or it might get classified as "negative news, but whichever way it gets reported by a thousand different news outlet around the world, whereas the news of another school reopening after a renovation or another dozen insurgents getting captured is lucky to get a run in half a dozen places, if at all. This is the phenomenon I see every day as I monitor the news from Iraq for my "good news from Iraq" segments, and this - the sheer quantity and spread of the coverage, rather than its tone - is what accounts for the common perception that nothing good is happening in Iraq.


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