In a sign that the public is getting fed up with the drumbeat of negative news coming out of Iraq, the Associated Press announced that it will make some changes in its wire reports.
The changes include having Robert H. Reid an A.P. correspondent at large write an overview every ten days, flagging stories that go beyond the breaking news and including stories by journalists who are embedded with the troops.
These changes were brought about after editors across the country were besieged with e-mails pointing out the positive things happening in Iraq like the opening of new embassies and building of schools which has largely been ignored by the media in favor of the headline grabbing death toll suffered by the U.S. military.
In a discussion held with the editors whose papers are members of the A.P. struggled to come to grips with how to report the news. Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times said that during the meeting the editors realized that it was much easier to add up the number of dead than to determine how many hospitals received power on a particular day or how many schools were built.
Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune said some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls. She also said that people want to know if we are making progress in Iraq and the A.P. articles aren?t helping answer that question.
“It was uncomfortable questioning The A.P., knowing that Iraq is such a dangerous place,” she said. “But there’s a perception that we’re not telling the whole story.”
There we have it. The media know that there is more going on than is being reported but due to bias and laziness they report what is easiest to do so. Damn the facts and the larger story. There are deadlines to meet and papers to sell, so do what is expedient appears to be the mantra with the media.
The A.P. is taking a step in the right direction, but unless their member newspapers adopt a policy of reporting the entire story and not just what sells papers and fits the viewpoint of the editors there won?t be much of a change in what we read.