Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Journalism in Fallujah

The Guardian has an article about how there are really no Western journalists left in Fallujah except for those embedded with US or British forces.
The few reporters left in Falluja are mainly Iraqi journalists and include two stringers for Reuters Television. But the absence of western reporters has raised questions over the ability of major news organisations to accurately report the assault on the city and its consequences.

Aidan White, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said the situation in Falluja was "hopeless as far as most media were concerned".

"A cloak has been thrown over the whole area and we are in the dark. Any recognisable journalism as we would know it is all but impossible," he said.
For Americans, this will probably not impact the news we get significantly. The majority of American reporters have been limited to Baghdad or embedding with US troops for most of the war in Iraq. It seems that most of the "news" from Iraq comes directly from Pentagon press conferences or official statements from the American military in Iraq. My Aunt Deb pointed to a Yahoo News story the other day that reported that 1) Fallujah has approximately 300,000 inhabitants and 2) it is estimated that approximately 80-90 percent of the city's inhabitants had already left the city and 3) that US troops forbid men aged 15-50 from entering or leaving Fallujah and the surrounding areas. So are we supposed to believe that only 10-20% of Fallujah's 300,000 inhabitants are men aged 15-50? I don't think so. As Aunt Deb wrote to me, "This is the sort of thing that makes you realize that reporters are being wilfully obtuse about this story."

And now we are going to get lots and lotsa "news from Fallujah" on all of our cable news channels, but really how much of it is going to be "news"? and how much of it is really going to be "from Fallujah"? Not a whole heck of a lot, I would guess. When Aidan White says that "Any recognisable journalism as we would know it is all but impossible," it makes me wonder what "recognisable journalism as we would know it" here in the United States really is, and whether it will be "all but impossible" or whether we'll hardly skip a beat. I tend to think the latter.

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