Media reports from Iraq lack quality

The mainstream media in Iraq is fooling itself into believing that it is doing the public good. The reports from rooftops and hotel rooms in Baghdad do not portray the real Iraq, nor do they report the truth. The reporters are so far removed from the conflict that what they report is little more than what they can piece together or steal from military personnel and independent field journalists.

Perhaps it is my own personal ties to the Iraq war, or my recent cynicism toward the news media, that lead me to believe that the news media is a self-interested machine committed to providing sensational news coverage.

I found the extensive coverage of ABC “World News Tonight” co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt’s injuries in Iraq to be distasteful.

I am not suggesting that what happened to Woodruff and Vogt was acceptable. I just don’t understand why it took almost three years, more than 2,000 American military casualties and more than 20,000 injuries before the mainstream news media explained to the American public how dangerous an improvised explosive device (IED) is.

The media have not lived up to their obligation to provide the public with information. A member of the news media had to be hurt for the term IED to raise eyebrows and make people fully realize the danger our troops have faced for almost three years.

The real news coming out of Iraq is not from the mainstream news journalists that barely travel out of Baghdad and the Green Zone. The accurate news is coming from the front lines – from the men and women living through the war and racing back to computers to blog what is really happening.

Michael Yon, 41, an independent journalist from Florida, has just finished his second tour in Iraq. He was embedded with the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul, a volatile city in Northern Iraq. The information on his blogs is more comprehensive than any mainstream news coverage.

In one of his recent blogs, Yon said, “Often I am asked to withhold information due to the immediate sensitivity. And so, I never release the slightest hint. But then somebody in Baghdad – three steps removed from the action here in Mosul – releases it to CNN and the rest of the world. What is seen on television and in the papers is practically always inaccurate, or is at least poorly framed.”

The public has a right to know what is happening in Iraq and I just hope that people do not rely solely on the mainstream media for information.

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