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Jason Holliston
 
Tuesday, August 26, 2003  
The Rest of the Story

Thanks to the Iraqi blogger Salam Pax, I was turned on to the English news site Iraq Today. Unlike American news sources, like the New York Times or FOX News, it doesn't give you a quick news blurb of what "went wrong today" in Iraq Monday, and then go glibbly on without a care to inform you of the follow up bits. It's not that they're a better news organization, per se, but that it's local and they care about the details. If you're honestly curious about what's going on in Iraq, you should add this to your daily diet of information intake.

Remember the incident in Sader (formally Saddam) City a week or so ago where American soldiers opened fire into a crowd of demonstrators, killing one? Well, turns out no one really died:

One week after the Sader City banner incident, leaders at al-Sader Martyr's office have admitted that in fact no one was killed either during the incident or in the clashes that followed.

Interesting. Remember hearing this in your American news sources? I didn't. I blame this on simple laziness, and nothing more insiduous as that. The reporter than took the time to research this story just simply cared more, and there you go: it's in digital ink.

I was talking today with a friend at work about this problem. We agreed that the blame lies with a number of factors, such as laziness, the fact that bad news sells, and built-in biases. The last, I think, is probably the least of the problems, on which I stand in stark contrast with the Conservative pundits. It is an real, and serious, institutional problem, however, no matter how you lean politically. Everything I see does indicate that the situation in Iraq is better than the impression you get listening to American news sources. This really does affect the public discourse. You hear talk on the street that the Administration led us into a trap. You hear politicians on Capital Hill pretending to be experts stating for certainty that we need more troops on the ground. Pudits move from the assumption that things are, indeed, going south in-country and move blithely along to the causes of the situation. Only in small circles are there questions about what's reported: are things as bad as they seem? All you have to do is search a bit. They aren't.

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