Why has media stopped covering Iraq War?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I don't have any answers to the question posed by the above headline. But a story in the New York Times -- "The War Endures, but Where's the Media" -- by Richard Perez-Pena, reports some interesting data.

From the NYT:

"Since the start of last year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of the nonprofit Pew Research Center, has tracked reporting by several dozen major newspapers, cable stations, broadcast television networks, Web sites and radio programs. Iraq accounted for 18 percent of their prominent news coverage in the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 percent in the following three months, and 3 percent so far this year.

"The policy debate in Washington that dominated last year's Iraq coverage has almost disappeared from the news. And reporting on events in Iraq has fallen by more than two-thirds from a year ago.

"The drop accelerated with a sharp decline in violence in Iraq that began at the end of last summer. The last six months have been safer for American troops than any comparable period since the war began, with about 33 killed each month, compared with about 91 a month over the previous year."

What about the Southeast Missourian?

We haven't conducted analysis at the Missourian about our news coverage. Local connections to the war, of course, get the most prominent positions in the newspaper. And the positioning of front page stories about the war will also be impacted by other news taking place -- both locally and nationally.

That said, it would be interesting to know how coverage of the war has evolved in the Missourian over the past few years. Thus, I'm inviting someone out there who also might be interested in the same question to do an analysis of Missourian front pages.

Here's the link to all the front pages of the Southeast Missourian for the past five years. How would you classify the Missourian headlines and stories, as they pertain to the war? And, how many of them are there by year?

Most interesting will be how the news compares over the past three years. But I give you the link to all front pages in case someone might want to go deeper than that.

RESPONSE to comment below:

Thanks, "Who Me?" for pointing out that the Southeast Missourian is not in the same category as much of the national media.

But Hitter72 makes some good points, too. It is local media's responsibility -- for example, the Southeast Missourian's -- to cover national and international events with local amplification, and not to rely exclusively on the wire services.

Pasted below are some of the locally by-lined stories about Iraq that have appeared in the Southeast Missourian in the past year. This is not a comprehensive list, but it is representative about the types of stories. Regarding the specific event of a troop homecoming to Ft. Leonard Wood, unless the fort or a local family contacted us, we would not necessarily know about it. We would love to have information about such events -- as long as they contain local names. We would also appreciate photographs of local soldiers.

Here's the list (compiled by Southeat Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders):

LOCAL MAN GIVEN $500 GRANT AFTER BEING INJURED IN IRAQ

SCOTT CITY STUDENTS FIND PEN PALS IN IRAQ

COUNTY GOP PICKS DELEGATES, VOTES DOWN IRAQ MOTION

SIX CAPE SOLDIERS TO DEPLOY TO IRAQ

(Skelton procession)

ANSWERING THE CALL FOR HELP

SGT. SKELTON

MORE THAN 800 EXPECTED TO ATTEND SOLDIER'S FUNERAL

SSG BRADLEY SKELTON

PROCESSION FOR GORDONVILLE MAN KILLED IN IRAQ SET

STAFF SGT. BRADLEY SKELTON

SGT. BRADLEY SKELTON

SKELTON'S MEDALS

GORDONVILLE MAN KILLED IN IRAQ BLAST

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