Sunday, February 24, 2008


The media's freedom of movement within Iraq has been severely restricted over the last year or so due to the high levels of violence, and the heightened threat against westerners. For the most part media crews have relied upon the U.S. military to shuttle them around the country as they "embed" with various units. It's worked out well for the military because it gets ample opportunity to get it's message out. The media, on the other hand, is itching to do other stories that don't include shots of U.S. soldiers or Marines ridding about in HUMMVs.

With the recent successes of the "surge" the bureaus are becoming more active in their efforts to get out on the streets and gather other, non-military stories. It still requires immense amounts of security coordination, but little by little things are beginning to open up. There's an direct relationship between the security situation on the ground in Iraq and quantity of stories filed by the Baghdad bureaus.

On another note, if I were a "backpack journalist" I'd be heading to Turkey right now. The situation there remains questionable as the Turks have a reputation for entering Iraq, making some noise and leaving again. This time, however, there seems to be more activity and not a lot of news coverage due to the fact that expense assets are tied up elsewhere. Opportunity exists.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure that correspondent you mentioned wasn't trying to specifically exclude US military personnel from his reporting - I'm sure his goal was to re-focus storytelling on Iraqis while other colleagues provided coverage of the US military. Sounds very fair and balanced.

And when you said that goal didn't work out so well for the correspondent, perhaps it was because his managers told him to do a particular story which was centered on the US military for a specfic reason? I'm certain, however, that he provided viewers in the US with some compelling, colorful and insightful stories about the everyday lives of ordinary Iraqis, so they could broaden and deepen their understanding of a nation which is eating up so many billions of American resources.

Eric said...

All of that is very true. The point was that the correspondent was half-jokingly voicing his personal frustration for having done so many military-based stories over the years and his desire to tell other stories that didn't involve U.S. forces, however the situation would not permit it at the time.

Since then, there have been greater opportunities to tell Iraqi-based stories as the security situation has improved greatly.