Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If 4000 People Fall in a Forest, Does the Press Hear it?

The coverage of the 4,000th US military death in Iraq/Afghanistan has been interesting to watch. That is, the coverage that one could find. Has the press decided that the big round numbers are no longer targets for automatic stories? Or is it that the public is just not buying the story anymore?

On the same Monday that saw that tragic 4000th death the most viewed Yahoo News story was on oil prices. The most emailed story was about the discovery of a 1986 message in a bottle. Has the war become a story for only those families of the serving, wounded and killed? I have been surfing small town newspapers and found few carrying stories of the war. Those that did I found in towns near military bases.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism noted that in 2007, the war occupied an average 15.5 percent of media news, a number that represented a steady decline through that year. In the first quarter of 2008, it was down to 3.9 percent. The presidential race has grabbed our attention, certainly. As have the numerous missing young pregnant wives or college co-eds stories. It brings to my mind that quote attributed to Stalin, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

After 2,000 Idaho national guardsmen were sent to Iraq in 2003, the Idaho Statesman sent a reporter and photographer to Iraq to cover the story. After those troops returned, the coverage nose-dived.

This has become a war that exists for fewer and fewer Americans each year, Support the Troops stickers hang partially ripped off on truck bumpers as we move along to whatever captures our attentions next. This war has lasted far too long for the American attention span to handle.


Blogger TomCat said...

As Bush and McConJob tell us (with ample media coverage) how normal things are, Iraq has become so dangerous that US Embassy employees are under orders not even to sleep in their own beds. The media is silent about real events there due to right-wing bias.

12:54 PM  

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