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Sunday, May 29, 2005

The real story behind news from Iraq

Michael Yon reveals the source of many news bulletins from Iraq as military-generated media releases. News services take these brief factual reports written by military personal and turn them into multi-paragraph stories for publication on the front page of BBC News Online, CNN etc.

These media releases are created straight from after-action reports known as SIGACT's. SIGACT's summarise significant actions impacting friendly or enemy forces. They tend to be factual accounts of American soldiers being killed or wounded, car bombs exploding, brief descriptions of battles etc. They are not strategic summaries of military events. Other military media releases (ie positive information) are not based on SIGACTS.

Brief summary of news gathering in Iraq:
  • Most western news services don't have reporters wandering around Iraq as it's too dangerous and very expensive
  • Local Iraqi and Arab 'stringers' collect photos and video of car bomb explosions etc
  • Military media releases provide free factual information on (generally negative) events resulting in American and Iraqi deaths
  • News services don't like using other military PR (ie positive news) as it is considered propaganda
So its obvious why most news services publish a constant stream of negative news from Iraq - that information is free for them to use, made available frequently, and considered factual enough not to be US military propaganda. Sometimes they can obtain accompanying imagery from cheap local stringers. They get all the market benefits and advertising revenue of real-time news gathering without paying the costs.

As Yon points out, we can't be surprised about the type and quality of coverage from Iraq if we 'consume' our news like fast-food takeaways.

An interesting question is why such news services consider the US military a source of potential propaganda and thus ignore its positive media releases, but simultaneously report head-chopping videos distributed by terrorists. An odd prioritisation of information sources and type, don't you think?

What we need are English translations of reliable local Iraqi news outlets.

And now, for the rest of the story....

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 5/29/2005 03:13:00 pm


Blogger reid said...

Here's a take on the same issue from the other side.

I post this not so as to engage in debate about the accuracy of the assertions but because this is a typical view of the other side whether or not you agree with what it says. Readers please note that I am not endorsing their position by providing the link.

5/29/2005 09:05:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Hmmm. Those damn American Zionists control everything!

5/30/2005 12:08:00 am  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

May as well read Arthur Chrenkoff who does a brilliantly impartial job of disseminating the real story of what's happening in Iraq. This is a man of vast experience in the region who has his finger on the pulse. He's honest as well and of course has no politicsal agenda to push. the only thing that matters to Arthur is the truth.

5/30/2005 09:35:00 am  
Blogger Davros said...

I see Metro contain an article by New Zealander Jon Stevenson who has spent much of the last two years in Iraq. This may be worth checking out. He discusses the media coverage and embedded reports and gets to wander around a bit. I understand Hubbard from the Sunday Star-Times, Mike McRoberts (TV3) and a listener journalist have all been over to Iraq. But Mr Stevenson has been there by far the longest. He has also been embedded with the Marines.

5/30/2005 12:06:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

If only more NZ magazines had online articles.

The Listener's doing a pretty good job (not that I read it often).

5/30/2005 12:09:00 pm  

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