Media coverage of Iraq war

I watched, “Listening Post” on Al-Jazeera sme days back..the issue was about the media’s coverage of the war in Iraq. This program was more focused on the US media and its role in the war.

A heated debate about the notion of objectivity in the media. US media accused of biais n being subjective n pro-Bush in their coverage of the war. Their role in not stopping the war was also questioned.

Looking for more info on the notion of objectivity, I found this on the net:

Embedding the Truth
A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Objectivity and Television Coverage of the Iraq War

By Sean Aday, Steven Livingston and Maeve Hebert


This article reports on a cross-cultural analysis of television coverage of the 2003 Iraq War that seeks to assess and understand the dimensions of objectivity in the news during wartime. A total of 1,820 stories on five American networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel [FNC]) and on the Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera were included in the study. The study assessed bias on two levels:tone of individual stories and the macro-level portrait of the war offered by each network. Results showed that at the story level, the overwhelming number of stories broadcast by Al Jazeera and the American networks other than FNC were balanced. Yet the data also revealed a strong bias in support of the American-led war effort at FNC and important differences in how the various networks covered the war.

Also, broadcasters showed a war devoid of blood, dissent, and diplomacy, focusing instead on a sanitized version of combat. Overall, the study found evidence that the news norm of objectivity is defined in large part by culture and ideology more than events, as the norm would imply. The study also explored in detail the coverage of embedded reporters to assess their objectivity and compare their coverage to other types of reporters, especially “unilaterals” with whom they shared the battlefield.

Download the full version here



One thought on “Media coverage of Iraq war

  1. One would expect major US channels draw attention to matters that are of vital priority and concern for the protection and well-being of American lives. But many are found silent on most occasions.

    You rarely find them talk about, say, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor and Nobel laureate according to whom so many soldiers are being injured that the costs of caring for them over their lifetimes is likely to be $350 billion, or up to twice that, depending on how long the war lasts. The high cost is the result of huge advances in military medicine that have greatly reduced the chances that a soldier injured in Iraq will die. As a result, the ratio of injuries to deaths 16:1 by his estimate is higher than in any other war in U.S. history.

    All who put their weight behind the cause of free expression need to spread the message about the media personnel taking big risks to bring truth to the world. They remain a victim of hostilities and but continue to serve a noble cause especially in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

    It is heartening to note that Royal Television Society Journalism awards on 20 February 2007 presented the Judges’ Award to Iraqi Camera Operators.
    It was that there were a group of people – about one hundred strong – who were making an outstanding contribution to television journalism in this country at extraordinary risk and who most of us in and around the industry have never met, let alone thanked. And it was time to put that right. Because of the dangers the international media are rightly cautious about sending their staff to Baghdad.
    On 20 February the Royal Television Society recognized “those who shoot the video from Iraq that we see on news and current affairs programmes.”

    The significance of such contributions have even far greater signifcance for the American people. The US government has 1000 pair of eyes on ground at their mission in Baghdad. Are they any closer in getting the exact picture on the ground despite spending $ 2 billion a week?

    Owing to movement restrictions on US media in Iraq, security risks and language barriers for American expatriates and diplomats there is limited interaction to gather facts, says an ex-Press attache. Robert J. Callahan told American Journalism Review that out of 1000 personnel at US mission in Baghdad, only 7 are fluent in Arabic: “Add to this the inability of most of us to read Arabic newspapers and understand television news programs.”

    Those advocating for accuracy in media should clarify if they put their weight behind supporting the Americans in getting a pluralistic picture on ground. Those who call for restricting plurality of opinion (by restricting channels like Aljazeera) keep US deprived of the option to ascertain the accuracy of facts for themselves. To borrow Callahan’s term, the Americans in Iraq worked in “a communication twilight. Nothing ever appeared in sharp focus.”

    It is time to open new windows and let the alternate views in.


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