Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Biased Media

Well, I don't always trust the established media when they're reporting about Iraq. On all networks (fox included) I smell partisan reasoning behind what they report, where they report it, and what attitude they report it with. I know this is a hard proposition to prove...but I (especially during the summer) read a lot of news from a wide variety of sources, and the trend keeps poping up. I'd say that the worst offenders are the AP and the NYT (which publishes a lot of AP articles) but there are other villans. If you want to get good reporting on what the ground in Iraq is like, you should check out people like Michael Yon (who is currently back in the states finalizing his stuff, before he heads back over) or Iraqi citizens like the guys at Iraq-The-Model, who actually live in the culture, know what they're talking about, and experience life outside the green line for themselves...unlike most of the reporters for the major networks.

For those of you who think life in Iraq just sucks completely, and you have to fear for your life every second of the day, you are (at least in my understanding) partly right...but you are missing the point. It's probably not your fault...you've probably never been to Iraq, and you probably trust what the established media is feeding to you (why shouldn't you?), so you very rarely hear a perspective that comes from outside the compound of safety that American and Iraqi troops have created. If you care about having a quality opinion, you should do some more research.

To prove this point (that the established media needs to be taken with a grain of salt) I offer this post from the Officer's Club. Remember, this is only one article, and therefore only one example, but I've seen the same pattern in lots of the articles I read everyday. (and I admit, I haven't been as good about reading the news as I have been in the past. I have too much work. But maybe there is a national newspaper that doesn't make this mistake that I don't know about)

Key al-Qaida in Iraq Figure Arrested
(ok, a six-word headline, not bad)
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer

(snip, go read the post for the rest, we'll start at para. six)

The captured al-Qaida figure was identified as Abou al-Farouq, a Syrian who financed and coordinated groups working for Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, according to an Interior Ministry officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the media.

(what captured AQ figure? Oh yeah- the one this article was about in the first place! 6 paragraphs later we get to the meat of the article, and we find out this guy is a Syrian deconflicting AQ operations across country lines. That’s a pretty big deal… what else does this tell us?)

Acting on a tip from residents, members of the Interior Ministry's Wolf Brigade captured al-Farouq with five other followers of al-Zarqawi near Bakr, about 100 miles west of Baghdad, the ministry said.

(holy crap! The local population turned in this AQ foreigner! Why isn’t this at the top of the article?)

So yes, I took this out of context...if you want a complete breakdown, go read the post I linked to, and you can see the whole article from there. But this is just a quote.

I think it explains itself pretty well...but even here you can see, through all the dirty reporting trick the journalist used, that people in Iraq are invested in providing themselves security, and that we even captured a major terrorist financier...but it wasn't even American troops, but Iraqi Citizens working with their American-Trained security forces that found the bastard. (and I don't feel bad calling him a bastard because he himself said that he was a member of AQ, and was proud of it.) However, in order to get this information, you have to slog through week old allegations of civil war starting in Iraq, even after we got told that no one really expects it any more. You really need to read the article to see what I'm talking about. The writer puts this good news in the worst possible light, and then burries it six paragraphs into the story.

Not really good journalistic technique.

And, now that you know where to look, I'm sure you'll find it other places as well...

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