Thursday, May 29, 2008

Off The Radar

How does the longest war in American history slip off of the media's radar screen? From the American Journalism Review:

A daily tracking of 65 newspapers by the Associated Press confirms a dip in page-one play throughout the country. In September 2007, the AP found 457 Iraq-related stories (154 by the AP) on front pages, many related to a progress report delivered to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Over the succeeding months, that number fell to as low as 49. A spike in March 2008 was largely due to a rash of stories keyed to the conflict's fifth anniversary, according to AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman. [...]

By March 2008, a striking reversal had taken place. Only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Eight months earlier, 54 percent could cite the correct casualty rate.
The theories for the decline range from economic downturn (both as a story itself, and it's effect on newsroom budgets for overseas correspondents), to the drawn out primary, to - get this - American Idol.

But in reality, Iraq coverage is in decline because of one simple fact: nothing has changed. From a journalistic perspective, there is no longer a story in Iraq. If you exclude the mounting death tolls, there is nothing new to report. Which makes it a non-story for the traditional media, who are driven by circulation numbers, ad revenue, and ratings.

This can be taken two-fold. One as a statement on our media, and the responsiveness they have to public whims of interest (and our own complicity in constant search for distraction from reality). Two, as a clear picture of the circular, endless endeavor that is George Bush's War.

That alone should be a story worthy of at least A3. Or so you'd think.

1 comment:

  1. The decrease in stories correlates with the decrease in US casualties.