|Wed, May 23, 2018 12:35 AM
|Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
The war is not yet over, but we're going to jump out ahead of the crowd and give our assessment of the process used first in this fight of embedding journalists with troops.
|Embedded journalists a success story|
It has been an unparalleled, unequalled, undeniable success.
That is not to say, however, that the coverage of this war has been the media's finest hour.
If you have focused all of your news collecting attention during this war to what you see on TV, you've missed some very, very good coverage. But, no doubt about it, you have also seen things you have never seen before, this side of a Hollywood flick.
Even Iraq's information minister used the uniqueness of the TV coverage by embedded journalists to his advantage...well, he tried to...when he told his countrymen that what they were seeing wasn't real, it was just a war movie made up by the infidels.
There is absolutely no doubt that the embedded journalist approach is a winner. It delivers reality.
If there has been a downside to the coverage...and there has been...it comes from the usual suspects...the 24/7 news networks, the loose cannon reporters who did not participate in the embedding process, and the shameless prejudices paraded as news by non-American media.
As we have learned from other major news events, the 'round-the-clock news networks like CNN and Fox News have made a habit of overplaying almost every bit of breaking news and then beating it to death with a string of experts and analysts who provide commentary that is more speculation than anything else.
Then, to eat up more clock in their 24-hour days, the news channels force feed us their attack packs, like Bill O'Reilly on Fox and Chris Matthews of MSNBC. These guys serve one purpose...to shred anyone and everyone who disagrees with their takes on issues, and they rarely let facts get in their way.
The best thing the 24/7 news channels have going for them...when they aren't showing film from their embedded reporters...is the news "crawl" along the bottom of the screen. When the talking heads gear up you can mute the tube and get everything you need to know from the crawl.
The coverage of this war also lost a good bit of its credibility to the "renegade" reporters — those who either chose not to play by the embedded journalist rules or couldn't get one of those gigs. Most of those reporters — like Geraldo Rivera and Peter Arnett — self destruct for the same reason — they consider themselves to be bigger than the story. They are grandstanders who'll say or do just about anything to draw attention to themselves, and they are more likely to prostitute the news with opinion and innuendo than to report.
Finally, the credibility of war coverage suffered seriously at the hands of foreign media, which clearly does not play by the same standards of objectivity as the American press.
Al Jazeereh television network should promote itself as "anti-American, all the time," and the British network BBC is about as close to being a televised version of the National Enquirer as you can get.
Most foreign coverage of the war has been so blatantly lopsided toward anything negative about us that you wonder sometimes if they are covering the same war.
The American press — or more specifically, the big name American press — will not walk away from this war unscathed. Critics blasted The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other highly regarded print publications — not for manufacturing news, but for their lack of balance in story selection. There have been yelps that these esteemed papers allowed their editorial biases to bleed through to their news coverage, and there is clear evidence to support the criticism.
The great irony of all this is that the best coverage, the most realistic, objective and believable coverage of this war was provided by reporters who had to abide by a clearly defined set of rules.
The worst coverage came from the totally "free" press.
For those of us who cherish a no-strings-attached free press, that irony is frightening, but enlightening, too.
It means we all need to get back to the basic principle of reporting...
Tell it like it is and then shut the hell up.
Save the embellishments for the Christmas trees.