The Portrait from Iraq: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground

The Portrait from Iraq: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground

Through the first 10 months of the year, the portrait of Iraq that Americans have received from the news media has in considerable measure been a grim one. Roughly half of the reporting has consisted of accounts of daily violence. And stories that explicitly assessed the direction of the war have tended toward pessimism, according to a new study of press coverage of events on the ground in Iraq from January through October of 2007.
 
In what Defense Department statistics show to be the deadliest year so far for U.S. forces in Iraq, journalists have responded to the challenge of covering the continuing violence by keeping many of the accounts of these attacks brief and limiting the interpretation they contain.

And as the year went on, the narrative from Iraq in some ways brightened. The drumbeat of reports about daily attacks declined in late summer and fall, and with that came a decline in the amount of coverage from Iraq overall.
 
This shift in coverage beginning in June, in turn, coincided with a rising sense among the American public that military efforts in Iraq were going “very” or “fairly well.”

These are some of the findings of a study of more than 1,100 stories from January through October from 40 different news outlets conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research institute that examines the press.

Read the full report The Portrait from Iraq on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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