Monday, August 18, 2003
On the ground in Iraq: The Wall Street Journal publishes a column by Lance Cpl. John R. Guardiano, a Marine serving in Al Hillah, Iraq. Guardiano's experience is contrary to what most of the mainstream media would have us believe about what's going on in Iraq.
In fact, there is another Iraq that the media virtually ignore. It is guarded by the First Marine Division, and, unlike Baghdad, it has been a model of success. The streets are safe, petty and violent crime are low, water and electrical services are almost universally available (albeit rationed), and ordinary Iraqis are beginning to clean up and rebuild their neighborhoods and communities. Equally important, a deep level of mutual trust and respect has developed between the Marines and the populace here in central and southern Iraq.
I know because I'm one of those Marines. My reserve unit was activated before the war, and in April my team arrived in this small city roughly 60 miles south of Baghdad. The negative media portrait of the situation in Iraq doesn't correspond with what I've seen. Indeed, we were treated as liberating heroes when we arrived four months ago, and we continue to enjoy amicable relations with the local populace.
The "Arab Street" I've meet in Iraq loves--that's not too strong of a word--America and is deeply grateful for our presence. Far from resenting the American military, most Iraqis seem to fear that we will leave too soon and that in our absence the Baath Party tyranny will resume. This sentiment is readily apparent whenever we venture into the city. We don't make it far outside of our camp before throngs of happy, smiling children greet us.
There's a reason why you hear very little of America's successes and the progress that is being made daily improving and rebuilding Iraq -- the only reporters on the scene are war reporters.
Pre-Great-Northeast-Blackout-of-2003 every time an American soldier was killed it was mentioned prominently in every newspaper, every evening newscast and on all the major-media Web sites -- as it should be.
But the reporting from Iraq is like having a newspaper with only a cops reporter. Yes, a cop-shooting will get prominent coverage, but there's so much more that's happening in every community. A look at the White House report on Iraq [Adobe Acrobat required] offers an excellent source of potential stories for education reporters, business reporters, government reporters, health care reporters and media reporters.
But you don't see these pieces in your local newspaper or on the national news.
When covering big news stories, unfortunately, too much of the media falls back on reporting the "who, what, where, when" and doesn't follow-up with the more important "how" and "why."
The media can't see the forest for the trees -- and don't expect that to change anytime soon.
Interesting report factoid: While reading through the White House report on progress in Iraq, this item jumped out at me:
3. The top 12 financial supporters for the renewal of Iraq are (in descending order): the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Kuwait.
It's interesting what prominent nation is missing, oui?