Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Does an exploding bomb in Baghdad make a sound?

This John Tierney column is tearing up Blogville. Right on! Says Jeff Jarvis and NRO. Oy! Says Atrios and Tbogg. Money quote:
I'm not advocating official censorship, but there's no reason the news media can't reconsider their own fondness for covering suicide bombings. A little restraint would give the public a more realistic view of the world's dangers.


Terrorists know the numbers are against them and realize that daily bombings will not win the war. All along, their hope has been to inspire recruits and spread general fear with another tactic, the bombing as photo opportunity. For some reason, their media strategy still works.

This is a sentiment that comes up often, most especially among our most conservative. As a reporter who does not cover war, but has done his fair share of local shoot-em-up/disaster/fire stories in his life, I think there is something to be said regarding the coverage of attacks in Iraq.

And yet, despite relaying his own experience in Iraq, Tierney does little to offer a solution. If a bomb goes off and 9 people die, is that not a story? How about 15 dead? 50? 500? Is it a paragraph in a daily roundup?

I don't know the answer. Yes, covering attacks on troops and explosions that kill 10 absolutely help the insurgency. Read this excellent Mark Danner article on "information operations" and the propaganda war for a better understanding. And yet Sept. 11, 2001 also immensely helped global terrorism, did it not? No word on how Tierney would have covered that day's events.

And he may not have noticed his own paper's reporting on the attacks. When the bombings started up in earnest about two weeks ago, they led on the front page. But slowly, as the attacks have become the norm, they have, increasingly, been stuffed inside. Twenty dead? Eh. A16.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 10:44 AM

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