Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five years of war journalism from outside the corporate media

The one silver lining thinly plated around the dark cloud which is the Iraq War (and more broadly the "Global War on Terra") is the high quality journalism that has occurred - usually underneath the radar. New Pravda, WaPo, CNN, FauxNews, and so on were of course little more than stenographers for the government's propaganda, and obviously I wouldn't be giving them any props. Instead, it's a lot of these cats who dared to travel outside of The Green Zone. From TomDispatch:
And that's where Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher magazine, comes in.

He himself is a shining example of someone who exhibited foresight about the invasion and then regularly dealt with issues that the mainstream media was slow to pick up. Just take, for example, this initial sentence he wrote on March 7, 2003, less than two weeks before Bush's invasion began, for a piece included in his new book, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, The Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq: "Considering that we seem to be on the verge of a major war, with little firm evidence of the Iraqi WMD driving it, the questions for Bush at his final press conference before the war seems likely to start were relatively tame." Mitchell then asked 11 questions of his own, all more piercing than any posed on Sunday's Times op-ed page five years later.

As his book makes brilliantly evident, you didn't have to be wrong all the time to be an "expert" on Iraq. His article below begins the necessary acknowledgement of those who were right, or did right, in these years and it should encourage all of us to make our own lists and create our own walls of honor to go with the wall of shame the Times displayed Sunday.

My list would be long indeed, but it would certainly include: the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters Warren Stroebel and Jonathan Landy in Washington, as well as Tom Lasseter, Hannah Allam, and others in Iraq who never had a flagship paper to show off their work, but generally did far better reporting than the flagship papers; Seymour Hersh, who simply picked up where he left off in the Vietnam era (though this time for the New Yorker); Riverbend, the young Baghdad blogger who gave us a more vivid view of the occupation than any you could ordinarily find in the mainstream media (and who has not been heard from since she arrived in Syria as a refugee in October 2007); Jim Lobe who covered the neocons like a blanket for Inter Press Service; independents Nir Rosen and Dahr Jamail, as well as Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent, who has been perhaps the most courageous (or foolhardy) Western reporter in Iraq, invariably bringing back news that others didn't have; the New York Review of Books, which stepped into some of the empty print space where the mainstream media should have been (with writers like Mark Danner and Michael Massing) and was the first to put into print in this country the Downing Street Memo, in itself a striking measure of mainstream failure; and Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment website was so on the mark on Iraq that reporters locked inside the Green Zone in Baghdad read it just to keep informed.

Maybe I'd throw in as well all the millions of non-experts who marched globally before the war began because commonsense and a reasonable assessment of the Bush administration told them a disaster -- moral, political, economic, and military -- of the first order was in the offing. And, of course, that's just a start. Tom

Read the rest.

Update: Editor & Publisher also reminds us that even as crappy as the mainstream media was (and still is), there were still about a third of major US newspapers willing to oppose the Iraq War.

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