Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Michael Yon: The Press in Iraq

This is an old one, but no less true:

My first dispatches told of bombs, mortar attacks, IEDs and so on. But from the first days on the ground, it was obvious there truly was a side that was not being reported. Troop morale, for instance, was high, and Iraqis seemed committed tomaking this work. I talked with writers who complained about editors in far-off places re-writing their work. I was running mission after mission until I just collapsed on a cot in a very dirty old room where the 155mm cannons would shoot over top every day or night. Before long, I could actually sleep through cannon fire.

The media that had swarmed the country in late January 2005 to cover the predicted slaughters at polling stations, instead reported record turnouts for Iraq’s first free elections. Whatever negative assumptions brought them in, once there they reported accurately on how successful the elections were, although few reported on the unmistakable shock that had accompanied the news. If I hadn’t seen it myself I might not have believed it. It was like the entire press corps came prepared to attend a funeral and write the obituary, only to stumble into a baptism.

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