Parties to the
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
April 8, 2003
By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star
Between the biases, distortion
and cheerleading of American and Arab television coverage of the Iraq war, a viewer
of both U.S. and Arab broadcasts can piece together a picture of what's really
happening on the ground and in the minds of viewers. It's not a pretty picture.
BEIRUT, Mar 27, 2003 --
To fully understand this war and its consequences, it's necessary to watch both
Arab and American television.
For different reasons,
Arab and American broadcasters provide a distorted, incomplete picture of the
war in Iraq -- while accurately reflecting emotional and political sentiments
on both sides.
Every day I scan through
20 different Arab and American TV services. This is a painful exercise, because
the business of reporting and interpreting the serious news of war has been transformed
into a mishmash of emotional cheerleading, expressions of primordial tribal and
national identities, overt ideological manipulation by governments and crass commercial
pandering to the masses in pursuit of audience share and advertising dollars.
American television tends
to go heavy on the symbols of patriotism. American flags flutter as part of on-screen
logos or backdrops, while emotional collages of war photos are used liberally
at transitions between live reporting and advertising breaks. American TV tends
to reflect the pro-war sentiments of the government and many in society. You see
and hear it in the tone of most anchors and hosts; the endless showcasing of America's
weapons technology; the preponderance of ex-military men and women guests; the
choice to rarely show Iraqi civilian casualties, but highlight U.S. troops' humanitarian
assistance to Iraqis; and reporters'‚ and hosts'‚ use of value-laden and simplistic
expressions like "the good guys" to refer to American troops.
The most unfortunate and
professionally disgraceful aspect of U.S. television coverage, in my view, has
been the widespread double assumption that Iraqis would offer no resistance and
would welcome the American army with open arms. Some Iraqis will surely do so,
but most people in this region now see the Americans as an invading force that
will become an occupying force. The American media reflects widespread American
ignorance about what it means to have your country invaded, occupied, administered
and retooled in someone else's image.
Americans know that their
impressive military strength will eventually prevail on the battlefield, yet they
appear totally and bafflingly oblivious to the visceral workings of nationalism
and national identity. I have seen no appreciation whatsoever in America for the
fact that while Iraqis generally may dislike their vicious and violent Iraqi regime,
the average Iraqi and Arab has a much older, stronger and more recurring fear
of armies that come into their lands from the West carrying political promises
and bags of rice.
channels display virtually identical biases and omissions, including: heavy relaying
of film of the worst Iraqi civilian casualties; interviews with guests who tend
to be critical of the United States; hosts and anchors who jump to debate rather
than interview American guests; taking Iraqi and other Arab government statements
at face value with little probing into their accuracy; and highlighting the setbacks
to the attacking Anglo American forces, by means that include showing film of
captured or dead troops.
the Arab World are slightly better off than most Americans, because we can see
and hear both sides, given the easy availability of American
satellite channels throughout this region; most Americans do not have easy access
to Arab television reports, and even if they did they would need to know Arabic
to grasp the full picture.
Two days ago, I better
understood the need to see images from both sides. Arab television stations showed
pictures of dead and captured American troops, many of which were eventually shown
on American television. But Arab channels the same day also showed a horrifying
picture that did not get into American TV: a small Iraqi child who had died during
an American attack, with the back of the child's skull and head missing. The picture
was as gut-wrenching and disgusting to Arabs as the pictures of the dead Americans
were to Americans.
You had to see both images
simultaneously that day to fully grasp the three most important dimensions of
this conflict, in my view: one, the terrible tragedy of human loss and suffering
on both sides; two, that this was a deliberately chosen American war that could
and should have been avoided; and, finally, that we have only started to witness
the human, economic, and political costs that will be paid by many people and
countries before this adventure plays itself out.
If you're getting your
news and views from either Arab or American television, you're getting only half
-- Rami G. Khouri is
a political scientist and executive editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon.
April 7, 2003
Wages a War of Its Own
By Tanya Goudsouzian
and Shadiah Abdullah
DUBAI, Mar 25, 2003 --
As the U.S.-led forces continue to pound on Iraq, TV networks battle to win international
public opinion amid allegations of censorship, bias, incitement and sensationalism.
Arab media have been accused
of breaking international conventions by showing American war prisoners and inciting
anti-West sentiments, while Western media have been charged with censoring images
of civilian casualties and toeing the line of the American administration.
In the Arab world, CNN
has lost much of the viewership it had amassed through its coverage of the Gulf
War in 1991. Arab viewers now prefer to switch on Arab news networks for what
they feel are uncensored images of atrocities committed by U.S. forces during
the past few days.
While CNN and BBC broadcast
sedate images of Kurds finding shelter in dank caves and refugees huddled in tents,
Dubai-based Al Arabiya and Qatar-based Al Jazeera, among others, feature grotesque
shots of splattered blood and charred flesh.
The shocking image of
a baby with half her face burnt off, and another child with his brains blown out
was played up by the Arab media, but the Western press, particularly CNN and BBC,
continued to project a sanitised Hollywood-like version of war - spectacular explosions,
billowing smoke, and shaky cameras.
The images shown on Arab
TV have an explosive impact on Arab public opinion, much to the dismay of U.S.
and British officials.
Western channels, notably
CNN, have come under fire for not only following, but also promoting American
policy, serving as "apologists" for a unilateral war on Iraq waged without a UN
mandate, and censoring graphic images of the civilian carnage.
And then there is the
matter of journalists stealing the show.
No sooner did the U.S.
wage their offensive on Baghdad on March 19, "daredevil" journalists, mainly from
the West, had copped a greedy share of the limelight.
First person accounts
of journalists' own experiences in warzones have long been the bane of sober political
analysts, who regret that sensationalised tales of adventure should eclipse the
reality on the ground.
As such, critics would
argue foreign correspondents reporting on the war in Iraq have broken a cardinal
rule of journalism by becoming a part of the story they are sent to cover.
Their confrontations with
the "big bad" Iraqis, and their subsequent expulsion from the country, has generated
more news coverage than the suffering of innocent civilians, including women and
very young children.
The tragic death of one
Australian journalist in Halabja has received more attention in the Western press
than the carnage left behind by U.S. forces when they attacked Basra in southern
In a telephone interview
with Gulf News, Tony Maddox, Senior Vice President of CNN International Europe,
Middle East and Africa, vehemently rejected these allegations and insisted that
they "do not seek to spare any images which we think are essential".
"We broadcast what we
get. When we get access to these images, we show them. It is in everyone's interest
to see the nature of the situation," he said.
However, he conceded that
"certain judgements on taste and decency" are made in the editing room, so as
not to show "gratuitous images of pain and suffering". "The fact is, we do not
seek to sanitise," he said.
But their efforts have
not been helped "by the Iraqi authorities ordering our team out of Baghdad", he
Maddox maintained that
it is "every bit our intention" to show as full a picture possible, and that their
team is made up of "the most respected journalists in the world" who are "risking
their lives to tell the story accurately with editors measuring the accuracy of
Maddox also dismissed
the so-called "independent correspondents": "Those people who say it isn't true
don't know any better if it is true or not."
Al Jazeera, for its part,
has been accused of being "hostile" and inciting the Arab masses against the West
by showing an abundance of footage of dead Iraqis.
Jihad Ali Ballout, Head
of Communications and Media Relations at Al Jazeera, told Gulf News: "We are in
the business of reporting facts reflecting whatever is happening on the ground.
We are not in the business of dressing up information to please anybody."
He underlined Al Jazeera's
commitment to showing both sides of the story, and allowing viewers to "form their
own opinions. If you recall just after we showed the footage of American troops,
we went even further and featured an interview with the mother of one of the war
prisoners," he said.
Ballout dismissed charges
that Al Jazeera often sensationalises the news, and misleads the public. "If we
were to dress and doctor information and hide the facts, it is only then that
they can credibly say that we mislead the public. We did not create the pictures.
We did not start the war. We are just reporting what happens..." he explained.
"People should realise
that war is ugly by nature. It creates carnage, death and destitution. Al Jazeera
will not be a tool in anybody's propaganda war. In other words, we report what
we see, and do not report what we are told to report!"
Ballout denied that the
channel has a pro-Iraq leaning, rather than a neutral position. "We have proved
that we strive to achieve balance as much as possible. When we started in 1998,
we were accused of being an Israeli front, then of being CIA-backed, and then
supported by Osama bin Laden. We are a station that chases news. We deal in news
and not politics."
Salah Najm, Director of
News at Al Arabiya, rebutted claims that the channel has surrendered its war coverage
to American interests. "We are trying to be as objective as possible without forgetting
that we are Arabs. But it is up to the public to judge us," he told Gulf News.
"Because we are Arabs
we will look at things with Arab eyes from an Arab viewpoint. Those who accuse
us should present the evidence. We have shown all the footage that is being shown
by the other channels without censor."
During the war in Afghanistan,
he said some Arab channels made it appear as though the Taliban would emerge victorious.
"This was later proved
to be wrong. We should give an objective view without misleading the public. Sometimes
the truth may be painful to swallow, but we consider ourselves the best friend
of the viewer. There is an old Arabic adage: Your friend is the one who tells
you the truth," he said.
© Gulf News, 2003. Distributed
in partnership with Globalvision News Network (www.gvnews.net). All rights reserved.
THE WAR ON
TV FROM BOTH SIDES
The Arab networks
are not without bias, but they often fill in missing pictures from the war
By JAMES PONIEWOZIK
IN THIS WAR, THE MIGHTY
BUT MERCIFUL allies target bombs carefully and tend to the enemy's wounded. In
that war, the allies blow up women and babies. In this war, Iraq is postponing
certain defeat by cheating, killing civilians and using human shields. In that
war, a weak nation is steadfastly defending itself using the only effective means
available. This war, on American television, is alternately "the war in Iraq"
or "Operation Iraqi Freedom." That war, broadcast by the media of the Arab and
Muslim worlds, is "the invasion."
It is hardly unusual for
two camps to see the same war differently. But in 1991, Western, Arab and Muslim
audiences used their rooting interests to filter the same source: American TV.
This time, Arab audiences and Muslims outside the Middle East have homegrown TV
networks to reflect their perspectives and, sometimes, bias-Qatar's widely known
al-Jazeera, available on some U.S. satellite and cable systems; Al Arabia; Abu
Dhabi TV, and more. (You probably watch them too-American TV uses rebroadcast
deals to pick up selected footage.) Arabs and Muslims distrustful of Western media-like
Turkish students and professors who burned a TV last week to protest CNN's "one-sided"
coverage-are happy to have their own alternatives. "We saw [Gulf War I] through
the eyes of Peter Arnett" says Nabil El-Sharif, editor in chief of Jordan's AdDustour
newspaper, referring to a war correspondent for CNN in 1991. "Now we're seeing
the war through Arab eyes.'
Arab eyes were a crucial
consideration in planning Gulf War II. Its targets and tactics were chosen to
avoid stirring up antiAmerican sentiment. But that strategy has not led to friendly
coverage on Arab and Muslim TV or a warm reception from its audiences. Like U.S.
TV, the Arab networks show briefings, sound bites from George W Bush 3 and Tony
Blair, allied advances and even interviews with coalition troops (al-Jazeera has
a reporter embedded with U.S. forces). But they also show charred bodies lying
beside gutted cars. Cameras linger over dead allied soldiers and bandaged Iraqi
children. Mourning families wail, and hospitals choke with bleeding and burned
civilians. If the war on American TV has been a splendid fireworks display and
tank parade punctuated by press conferences, on al-Jazeera et al., war is hell.
For its grisly pictures
and aggressive coverage of the coalition, al-Jazeera in particular has been treated
as a fifth column in the West. U.S. and British officials condemned it for airing
footage of allied rows' corpses, and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ have
ejected al-Jazeera reporters. Hackers attacked its English language website, replacing
it with a red-white-and-blue U.S. map and the slogan LET FREEDOM RING. What better
motto for people who shut down a news outlet? Arab media observers see some slant
in the Arab networks' language and image choices, but they also see bias in Western
TV, with its reliance on Administration and military talking heads and flag-waving
features like MSNBC's pandering "Americas Bravest" wall of G.I. photos. Arab networks
play to their audience too, which in their case means skepticism of allied claims,
lots of tear jerking, and talking heads who doubt American motives and prowess.
"Arab commentators don't dare say Iraq will lose the war," says Musa Keilani,
editor in chief of Jordan's Al-Urdon newspaper. But, says Abdullah Schleifer,
a professor of TV journalism at the American University in Cairo, al-Jazeera has
become "more detached and balanced" since the days after 9/11, when it portrayed
Osama bin Laden as a noble Arab champion.
Indeed, straight news
on the Arab networks in many ways offers viewers a more complete and inside look
at the war than US. TV does. They are given greater access by Baghdad, which sees
them-as it saw CNN in 1991-as a conduit to the outside world. With more reporters
and cameras in Iraqi cities, Arab networks often have better camera positions
on aerial attacks and show much more of what those pretty explosions wreak bloodily
on the street. U.S. TV tends to treat civilian victims in the context of showing
allied medics helping them, and some of its coverage of the war's effects on civilians
is insultingly picturesque. ABC's Peter Jennings narrated a travelogue-like "portrait
gallery" that included a still image of healthy Iraqi kids walling in the rubble.
"Don't you always wonder," he intoned unctuously, "what the children are thinking?"
On the Arab networks, there's little need to wonder. "Arab channels know [graphic]
images address the core consciousness of their viewers,' says Issan Mousa, professor
of media studies at Yarmouk University in Jordan. "For the Arab audience, Arab
and Muslim networks cover many of the same stories as Western TV, but with notable
differences." Political and cultural considerations aside, Arab viewers have other
reasons to trust these networks. They have often had more accurate information.
U.S. networks and the BBC reported a revolt against Iraqi troops by Shiite Muslims
in Basra last week, airing video of allied forces firing supportive artillery
into the city. On Fox News, anchor Neil Cavuto crowed, "Don't look now, but the
Shiites have hit the fan!" But al-Jazeera had a correspondent inside Basra, which
appeared relatively orderly-quiet streets and groups chanting pro-Saddam slogans.
Later the Western networks backpedaled. And for four days after U. S. TV said
the allies had taken the port city of Umm Qasr, al-Jazeera correctly reported
Though satellite dishes
are common in Arab cities, many people watch TV at restaurants and cafes, where
the communal mood takes shape. At the Ajyad restaurant in Amman one recent lunch
hour, that mood was dark. On two 36-cm TVs, al-Jazeera carried video from a Baghdad
market hit by missiles. As Iraqis pulled the mutilated dead from the rubble and
the camera lingered on a boy with blood streaming from his head, waiters paused,
holding their steaming plates of lamb stew. "This blood must be avenged;' taxi
driver Ata Ali said angrily. "We will see pictures of American children bleeding
like that, God willing." "God willing," responded his friends. The diners sniggered
at American "softies" chafing at the desert conditions and disparaged White House
press spokesman Ari Fleischer, who is Jewish. "This just proves the Jews are behind
this war," said Nabil Abu Maazin, an electrician. Another man said he sometimes
watches CNN. "It's very boring;' he said. "They never seem to talk to real people,
only experts. The Arab channels show you real people and how the war is affecting
In fact, Western and Arab
media are driven by the same imperative-to feed the hunger for human interest.
Their interests are simply in different humans. On U.S. TV it means press conferences
with soldiers who have hand and foot injuries and interviews with rows' families,
but little blood. On Arab and Muslim TV it means dead bodies and mourning. History
will have to sort out many points on which Western and Middle Eastern TV differ:
how effective the allied war effort is, how warmly Iraqis will receive its results
and which media are most accurate and neutral. What we do know is that war is
a horrible thing in which people die horribly. So far, there is no question which
networks own that story. -Reported by Aparisim Ghosh/Amman, Amany Radwan/Cairo
and Pelin Turgut/Istanbul.
The International Herald Tribune
WAR IN IRAQ
Telling the story
new tools to cover conflicts, but old problems remain
By Julie Salamon
Listening to old Murrow
broadcasts is a reminder that war has always been a chaotic, confusing and dangerous
story, seen by the reporter through a narrow lens. Murrow brought clarity to his
listeners through intelligent assessment of what he saw.
"A row of automobiles,
with stretchers racked on the roof like skis, standing outside of bombed buildings,"
he said in 1940, describing the bombing of London. "A man pinned under wreckage
where a broken gas main sears his arms and face."
Today's television broadcasts
unfold not like narratives, edited for sense, context and continuity, but like
animated Cubist paintings with sound and multiple images appearing simultaneously.
"Back in the Middle Ages
when I covered wars you had reflection time - you weren't winging it," said Morley
Safer of the "60 Minutes" program on CBS, who covered the Israeli-Egyptian conflict
in Suez in 1956 and the Vietnam War in the 1960s. "Now, suddenly you're on, and
you have to say something. You can only describe what you can see in the very,
very narrow field of vision that you have. They have a hell of a lot more people
covering these live wars than we had. But we had time to check things out."
In all wars the field
correspondents by necessity offer a keyhole view, its range determined by access
and censorship. Pyle, like other correspondents in World War II, was required
to submit dispatches to military censors, while today's reporters are not. (Although
the reporters traveling with troops are subject to restrictions).
But the context of World
War II - a global war with a moral imperative against a clear enemy, where the
reporter and the soldier were both unlikely to question the rationale - fell apart
quickly in Vietnam. That conflict produced widespread dissent at home and changed
the perspective and even the role of the war reporter. Skepticism replaced solidarity,
and reporters made their reputations by digging out the contradictions of the
In the Iraq war, the U.S.
policy of assigning journalists to live with the troops, or "embedding" them,
could be seen as carrying on the tradition of Ernie Pyle - or as a method to manage
the news and restore the sympathy between reporter and soldier.
The policy, some critics
argue, is an effort to make the press a cheerleader again for U.S. soldiers and
to demoralize an enemy with live pictures of American might.
Traveling with U.S. troops
in World War II, the war correspondent Ernie Pyle
brought home the horror in unadorned prose. "There is nothing left behind but
the remains - the lifeless debris, the sunshine and the flowers, and utter silence,"
he wrote from Normandy in 1944. "An amateur who wanders in this vacuum at the
rear of a battle has a terrible sense of loneliness. Everything is dead - the
men, the machines, the animals - and you alone are left alive."
Pyle himself was killed
in action and mourned as a hero. Combat journalism has changed since then, but
so has warfare. Technology has significantly altered how wars are waged and for
how long, the tools reporters use and how audiences receive the news. Edward R.
Murrow, standing on rooftops in London watching German bombs fall, sent word pictures
by radio; today's television correspondents transmit live images. Now there are
multitudes of channels, as well as the Internet, barraging the home front with
information and supposition, some of it reliable, some not. But has this made
war more comprehensible or less? Is the war correspondence any better?
Being a war correspondent
has been difficult and dangerous but also romantic, and romanticized. Michael
Herr, in "Dispatches," a book drawn from his Vietnam reporting, wrote of the press
corps reporting on the war: "It included young marrieds, all kinds of girl reporters,
a lot of Europeans, the Ivy-League-in-Asia crowd, the Danang bunch, the Straights
and the Heads, formals and funkies, old hands (many of whom were very young) and
even some tourists, people who wanted to go somewhere to screw around for a while
and happened to choose the war."
A similar variety has
gathered now: the veterans of other wars, the gonzo adventurers and the gee-whiz
commentators who seem surprised to be seeing bombs explode. It is too early to
tell what kind of job they are doing. But as in other wars, death is an occupational
hazard. Four journalists have died - two Britons, an Australian and an American,
Michael Kelly, an editor-at-large for The Atlantic Monthly and a columnist for
The Washington Post.
So far in this war, context
has often become submerged in a swamp of unfiltered detail. In today's information
free-for-all it is possible to watch not only television outlets in the United
States, many of them round the clock, but also foreign outlets like the BBC or
France's TV 5.
AI Jazeera, the Arabic
satellite channel, is available on the Internet, as are reports from newspapers
around the world. Some correspondents write one thing for their employers and
then file additional unedited personal reports on the Internet in Weblogs, diary-like
accounts that tend to be more opinionated. "So many stories start out as rumors,
gain some credence because they have been reported, and then turn out to be rumors
after all," said Phillip Knightley, author of "The First Casualty" a sometimes
caustic assessment of war correspondents published in 1975 and updated in 2000.
"Then these rumors simply disappear without being properly resolved."
Since the secretary of
war began handing out press releases to correspondents during the US. Civil War,
the American government has tried to manipulate the news. In World War I, which
was unpopular in the United States, Congress passed the Espionage Act, making
it a crime to interfere with the recruitment of troops or the national defense.
The law was used to silence anti-war protesters and to keep the press on a tight
leash. In World War II, generally considered a just war, reporters were eager
to join the cause.
Then came Vietnam, the
first televised war. The government allowed journalists relatively free range
and then blamed them for both insufficient patriotism and a failed policy. But
for a long time, most of the coverage of Vietnam, while not uncritical, generally
supported government objectives. The Tet Offensive in 1968 shattered public confidence
in official credibility, when heavy U.S. losses sharply contradicted the optimistic
prognosis for the war that had been issued from Washington.
Walter Cronkite, the CBS
anchor, said the war was at a stalemate. "If we've lost Cronkite, we've lost America,"
said President Lyndon ohnson. Kevin Buckley, who arrived in Newsweek's Saigon
bureau in February 1968, said, "There were two big questions: How are we doing
and what are we doing?"
The "what" often has to
do with carnage, human losses the government may not want reported. "Generally
the American media is less receptive to hearing the answer to what are we doing,
because the answer is often troubling," Buckley said. "In Vietnam terms, a government
official would say, 'Ninety-two percent of that province is pacified.' A reporter
might take the official to task about the 92 percent without asking the real question,
'What was pacification?' Denuding the countryside of its population. Putting heavy
lethal firepower into heavily populated areas."
A stream of conflicts
followed: Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada; then the Gulf War, followed by Chechnya
and Kosovo. There was the genocide in Rwanda, the struggle in Northern Ireland
and the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But none of these
approached a major war of national commitment; most did not involve U.S. troops,
and even in Kosovo, U.S. ground troops were sent in only after the conflict was
Legions of reporters moved
through these places, writing and photographing, increasingly armed with the satellite
telephones and cell phones that gave coverage an immediacy previously unimaginable.
Suddenly it was possible to provide instant testimony from the ground that sometimes
contradicted the briefings given from headquarters.
Journalists in such conflicts
were more often between sides than with one or the other. They could be the targets
of anyone. "You're an antidote to the propaganda," said Michael Dobbs of The Washington
Post, who was in Belgrade during the NATO air strikes in 1999. "It puts you in
a position where you really have to be objective and detached.
You're reporting to the
country that's waging the war, but reporting among the people who are living in
"I saw the suffering
of Serbian civilians and yet I knew very well the political arguments in favor
of the war. I personally couldn't decide between those two things. There are two
sides of war, both of which are accurate."
The human face
of TV war
footage reveals the fluctuating emotions of troops on the Iraqi front line, writes
ITN's Richard Wild.
Sunday April 6,
In times of war, television
journalism comes into its own. It allows us an immediate sense that we are seeing
an accurate depiction of the frontline. A 30-minute TV news programme can take
us from pictures of soldiers engaged in severe firefights with Iraqis to troops
in berets distributing much-needed water to old men and children. Simultaneously,
soldiers bear lethal weapons and hand out sweets to children.
This describes accurately
the range of duties expected of the Army in this war, which has had to justify
itself as humane in the face of intense public scrutiny. But these are anonymous
soldiers. We see warriors fighting silently for causes outside the boundaries
of political debate, namely loyalty and duty. It is the reporters or senior officers
who tell their story.
My job during the war
has led me to a very different image of the troops in Iraq. As one of the ITN
team who watches every second of footage taken by a British camera, including
all the hours of footage that are never broadcast, I have seen a great deal more
of the war than is shown in news programmes.
A TV camera's microphone
is never turned off. On these endless audio tracks, moments and feelings are captured
that remind us that soldiers are very human, very ordinary people. This has allowed
me to listen to the voices of soldiers who may be unaware that they will be heard
in an ITN newsroom.
One package, for example,
showed a group of soldiers relaxing around a fire at night. They came across as
a quiet, reflective group, sharing only a couple of brief words. Off camera, a
reporter was asking them to pose to get the shots that would suit his piece.
While the camera continues
to run between shots, however, the group lost its awareness of being 'on film',
relaxing into a friendship, bantering in nicknames - 'Allie' and 'Macka' - and
laughing at the fact they would be 'on the telly'. One jokingly dared another
to 'pull a moonie'. He didn't, but, even if he had, it would never have been shown:
this is not an image that accords with television troops.
The next day, a striking
piece of footage came through of soldiers searching buildings in the outskirts
of Basra as the coalition forces established their presence in the area. The camera
followed - with its microphone on. The door had to be kicked down to gain entry
to one deserted building. Inside, a picture of Saddam Hussein lay on the floor.
'More fucking pictures of Saddam,' muttered a soldier.
The house was searched
without finding anything but another closed door. This one would not open on an
initial kick and so another soldier tried and tried again as his colleagues whooped
and shouted encouragement: 'Come on sunshine', 'Come on, Bondy, have him'. The
second kick was almost theatrical in intensity, double-footed with a running leap.
It did not budge and they moved out of the house and on. For a moment, these soldiers
were teenagers breaking into a scrap-yard or children with a rotten tree trunk.
This scene lasted for
a couple of minutes. It did not make any packages, which understandably concentrated
on the narration of the fierce battle going on for the rest of the city. But it
tells a story of its own. It reminds us that these are not politically correct
robots. For a moment, these soldiers digressed from television's description of
the meticulous, professional soldier. Whilst undertaking a serious operation they
showed themselves as a group of young men in high jinks. Their postures were textbook,
rifles held to the shoulder ready for an emergency; it was their voices that gave
In some situations, the
soldiers' silence reveals their humanity. As the first Iraqis surrendered on the
road to Umm Qasar on the second day of war, a camera was present with the small
group of troops who received them. One went out to deal with the prisoner of war.
Hesitantly, the soldier made his way forward. In an ITV package that evening,
a ten-second clip of the search was used. A sense of time is important. It conveyed
the story of surrender succinctly. But it lacked the protracted and awkward scene
of the full footage that showed a young man feeling his way into his new position
Yesterday as ITN fed in
footage of troops manning a checkpoint on the road into Basra Bridge, a few shots
were fired. The source was not clear at first. Huddled behind a tank, three soldiers
discussed where they might be coming from as they watched non-uniformed Iraqis
in the far distance: 'What about on top of that dark thing?' one asked. 'He's
all right that one,' another reassured him. The shots stopped and the group relaxed
again. But after a pause: 'Si... Si... Where are you, mate?'
These were voices of caution,
highlighting the teamwork and camaraderie that forms the backbone of small units.
The British Army provides
a service whereby soldiers can send brief video messages to their friends and
families, which are transmitted on television stations' satellite dishes. These
are personal messages and not for broadcast. But as with all footage from these
dishes, they come through on our monitors at ITN.
In the obvious sense,
these troops immediately become individuals. They stand alone and without helmets
in front of the camera. Even seeing their faces intimately is startling.
For many this will have
been the first chance in over two weeks to communicate with those close to them.
Their messages were to people from their own worlds, to Nan, Mum and Dad, girlfriends,
husbands, friends: a wealth of relationships behind the anonymous troops we see
on our screens.
War was not the topic,
instead reassurances of well being, and hopes of meeting up quickly. Many used
the same phrases: 'As you can see I'm safe and well', 'I'll be back soon', 'Miss
you loads'. One responded simply: 'Yes, I will marry you when I get back'.
There were a whole range
of different accents, a lisp, some lively and fluent, others awkward and laconic.
Suddenly the Army could be seen in its raw, constituent parts.
Cameras only follow stories
and even this additional footage of the war is limited. It would be far more interesting
to be able to sit around a camp at night with a group of soldiers and hear about
their real thoughts and feelings. This type of information is inaccessible. The
rare moments when soldiers have talked on camera about the campaign have addressed
feelings of fear and sentiments that Saddam Hussein needs to be toppled. These
are easy, acceptable soundbites both for those making TV packages and for the
interviewees stuck in front of a camera.
This gap in our knowledge,
however, raises questions about the how far the military atmosphere allows them
to think freely about their task and has repercussions for the way that the war
Last Monday, two soldiers
were allegedly sent back to Britain for questioning the legality of the war and
whether they should be called upon to shoot innocent civilians. Their lawyer Gilbert
Blades claimed that 'as soon as they expressed these views to other soldiers they
were then removed'.
The combat zone is not,
of course, the place for political debate. Yet without including a day-to-day
image of the soldiers, we lack a complete sense of the war experience. Until then
it is difficult to see the soldiers as anything beyond executors of government
These are not poets, nor
warriors but ordinary men and women who, by choice of profession, have left home
comforts and freedoms to face great danger. On the whole they remain a mystery
and will be remembered after this war by medals, not words.
But it is important when
watching fleeting, silent television coverage to remember that beneath the uniforms
are people coming to terms with a life of overwhelming intensity. If only we could
hear, they manage to preserve their human voice.
· Richard Wild is a
researcher at ITN.
Sky wins battle
for rolling news audience
network's lead has been fuelled by a new appetite for 24-hour news among British
viewers, reports Jamie Doward.
Sunday April 6,
Even if, according to
the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, the 1991 Gulf war didn't exist, there
can be no such doubts about its successor. Baudrillard's much quoted thesis, famously
espoused in the pages of Libération, suggested the first conflict - as seen through
the prism of the media - came to be depicted as an unreal, imaginary place, a
giant video game to the eyes of desensitised television viewers.
But with a multitude of
rolling news channels beaming constant images, many of them extremely harrowing,
into the UK's homes, this war is terrifyingly, soberingly real. 'The flow of pictures
has been exceptional. I've done every war since the Falklands - which didn't have
pictures - to Afghanistan, which had pictures but from the wrong places, and this
is remarkable, even overwhelming sometimes,' said Rachel Attwell, deputy head
of television news at the BBC.
Indeed some critics have
gone so far as to suggest the 24-hour news channels are little more than purveyors
of 'war porn' for the way they broadcast relentless images shown without context
or explanation. Others, such as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, worry that they
create information overload - too much reality which could have serious effects
'Had the public been able
to see live coverage from the First World War trenches I wonder for how long the
governments of Asquith and Lloyd George could have maintained the war effort.
Imagine the carnage of the Somme on Sky and BBC News 24,' Straw said in a recent
One thing, however, is
indubitably clear: UK viewers want rolling news and they increasingly want it
from domestic broadcasters. All three of the UK's rolling news channels - Sky,
BBC News 24 and the ITV News Channel - are experiencing significant increases
in audience numbers, while the once mighty CNN seems to have failed to live up
to its gilt-edged reputation honed during the first Gulf War.
'People are watching
in bigger numbers than they have ever watched before. It's pretty amazing that
we reached more than 9 million people last month,' said Steve Anderson, controller
of ITV news and current affairs.
'The big difference this
time around is technology has got better, lighter, easier to handle and it's cheaper.
It's much more effective and so it's not unusual to go straight to live pictures
out of, say, Basra. Often the pictures are mundane, but you can cut to it at the
flick of a switch, and this war has come much more into people's homes,' Anderson
Strangely, though, in
contrast to the success of the UK's rolling news channels, CNN is perceived to
be having a poor war, at least among British viewers. 'They made a big play of
owning it by spending money and devoting huge numbers of people to it, but it
looks dated and they haven't got the mix right,' said one executive with a rival
Of the UK rolling news
channels, only Sky was around during the first conflict, which may go some way
to explaining why it is doing so well in the ratings this time. The BBC's rival
channel has just celebrated its fourth birthday while ITV's equivalent is only
six months old.
Despite pundits suggesting
this conflict would be the making of BBC News 24, Sky has surprised some by remaining
firmly ahead in the ratings war.
On the first day of the
Iraq war, Sky News - which has an 85-strong team dedicated to reporting the situation
in the Gulf - was the most-watched of the three news channels, recording a reach
(the number of people watching for at least three minutes) - of just under 6 million.
The BBC, by comparison, managed just under 4 million and ITV just under one million.
As the week progressed Sky hit 6.1m viewers, the BBC maintained its position and
the ITV News Channel doubled its audience.
More impressive, though,
was Sky News' share of the overnight audience. On the night war broke out Sky
News took 7.52 per cent of the audience, compared with News 24's 2.92 per cent
and ITN's 0.82 per cent.
'Like most of these things
it's a matter of getting the balance right,' said Nick Pollard, head of Sky News.
'You've got to get the balance between reporting, presenting, explaining, analysis
and the total package - the look on screen. We've got more of this right than
Before the war began,
Pollard told his staff they needed to focus on two things. 'One, logistics, getting
to the story, covering it. And two, the journalism. And if the latter is subsumed
under the former we're not doing it right. We've got to make it user-friendly
without being trite and we need to be slick. It's what we normally do but writ
The channel believes
its decision to drop advertising slots for the first days of the conflict (still
only one an hour now) won it plaudits with viewers, although it is debatable how
many companies want to advertise during the war anyway. Pollard says the fact
that its coverage is anchored in Kuwait and is introduced by two respected heavyweights
- Simon McCoy and Emmy-award winning Jeremy Thompson - gives it an authenticity
that appeals to viewers. Certainly, some of its coverage has been compelling.
The channel points proudly to two notable broadcasts - David Chater's reports
from Baghdad as the bombs started to fall and David Bowden's commentary amid the
fierce fighting around Umm Qasr.
Sky has fashioned a reputation
for breaking big news stories. It claims it was between 10 to 15 minutes ahead
of the BBC when it came to reporting September 11 and the outbreak of war.
BBC insiders suggest Sky's
attempts to be first have backfired on several occasions, with the channel running
stories that were untrue. In its response to the Lambert report into BBC News
24, the corporation hissed: 'We sometimes have a higher threshold for breaking
news or a more detailed checking process than our competitors.'
Attwell argues judging
coverage by ratings only gives half the story. 'You don't have to be number one
to be a success. I would like to think people felt News 24 was a channel of high
quality. We have some fantastic correspondents in the field, with a level of expertise
the other channels don't have.' In addition she pointed to the way the channel
devoted more air time to debating key issues.
All three channels reject
claims they simply serve a relentless diet of uncomprehending coverage. But clearly
the ratio between rolling news and what else is sandwiched around it depends on
the overarching philosophy of each channel and often hinges on a producer's split-second
decision. ITV's Anderson said: 'Last Saturday we showed pictures of Iraqis down
by the Tigris looking for downed pilots and firing into the water. It was a live
event and we went with it - it was an indelible image, but in the end it didn't
amount to anything.'
Latest figures show the
24-hour news channels are experiencing viewer fatigue with audiences tailing off.
Last week Sky had an average 4m viewers tuning in, more than 2m below its peak.
But as the battle around Baghdad intensifies, the news channels face their greatest
challenge - and their greatest opportunity.
The New York Times
In Arab media,
war shown as a 'clash of civilizations'
CAIRO It was a picture
of Arab grief and rage. A teenage boy glared from the rubble of a bombed building
as a veiled woman shrieked over the prostrate body of a relative.
In fact, it was two pictures:
one from the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the second from the Palestinian territories,
blended into one image this week on the Web site of the popular Saudi daily newspaper
The meaning would be clear
to any Arab reader: What is happening in Iraq is part of one continuous brutal
assault by America and its allies on defenseless Arabs, wherever they are.
As the Iraq war moves
into its third week, the media in the region have increasingly fused images and
enemies from this and other conflicts into a single bloodstained tableau of Arab
The Israeli flag is superimposed
on the American flag. The Crusades and the 13th-century Mongol sack of Baghdad,
recalled as barbarian attacks on Arab civilization, are used as synonyms for the
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Horrific vignettes of the helpless - armless children,
crushed babies, stunned mothers - cascade into Arab living rooms from the front
pages of newspapers and television screens.
For Arab leaders and Arab
moderates, supported by Washington, the war has become a political crisis of street
protests, militant calls for a jihad and bitter public criticism of their ties
to the United States.
While a short war with
a minimum of inflammatory pictures of Iraqi civilian casualties had been hoped
for, the daily message to the public from much of the Arab media is that U.S.
troops are callous killers, that only resistance to the United States can redeem
Arab pride and that the Iraqis are fighting a pan-Arab battle for self-respect.
"The media are playing
a very dangerous game in this conflict," said Abdel Moneim Said, director of the
Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "When you see the
vocabulary and the images used, it is actually bringing everybody to the worst
nightmare - the clash of civilizations."
Sensationalism has not
gripped all media outlets. Some mainline government-owned newspapers like the
staid Al Ahram in Egypt and two of the privately owned international Arabic papers
based in London, Al Hayat and Asharq Al Awsat, have reported the war in neutral
The biggest influence
on much of the media coverage has come from the satellite news channel Al Jazeera.
It made its name with on-the-spot coverage of the Palestinian uprising, which
also gave viewers an unblinking look at bloody and broken bodies.
Many governments, aware
that Al Jazeera is widely considered by Arab audiences to be more credible, have
allowed their own stations to run Al Jazeera footage of the war to demonstrate
their own anti-war credentials.
The rage against the United
States is fed by this steady diet of close-up color photographs and television
footage of dead and wounded Iraqis, invariably described as victims of U.S. bombs.
In recent days, more and more Arabic newspapers have run headlines bluntly accusing
soldiers of deliberately killing civilians.
Even for those accustomed
to seeing such images from Arab coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
the daily barrage of war coverage in newspapers and on hourly television reports
has left many Arabs beside themselves with anger.
"He is 'Shaytan,' that
Bush," shouted Ali Hammouda, a newsstand operator in Cairo, using the Arabic word
for Satan and pointing with shaking hands to a photograph in one of his newspapers.
The image, published in
many Arabic papers, showed the bloody bodies of a stick-thin woman and a baby,
said to be victims of American shelling in central Iraq. They were lying in an
open wooden coffin, the baby's green pacifier still in its mouth. "Your Bush says
he is coming to make them free, but look at this lady," Hammouda exclaimed. "Is
she free? What did she do? What did her baby do?"
Fahmi Howeidy, a prominent
Islamist writer in Cairo, said the reactions were not necessarily pro-Saddam.
"Of course we think Saddam Hussein will not continue in power, but if he resists
for weeks, at least he will defend his image as a hero who could resist U.S. and
British power," Howeidy said.
"If this happens, we can
expect chaos in the Arab world because we don't know how the people who already
criticize Arab regimes will express their anger after that," he added.
Since the war began, much
of the Arabic press and the private Arab satellite stations have displayed no
squeamishness about what they show. War is carnage, the editors have said, so
why mute the screams or hide the entrails of the wounded and dead?
"Arabs, like anybody
else, don't like the sight of blood or pictures of corpses, but it's a matter
of principle that we have the right to know what's happening," said Gasa Mustafa
Abaido, an assistant professor of communications at Ain Shams University in Cairo.
"What we see in the media is an indirect way for the governments and the public
to reject the war."
APRIL 5: TV
AT WAR, TV AS WAR
Executive Editor of MediaChannel.org
THE TV WAR MOVES
CNN vs AL-JAZEERA
If we ever needed a clearer
demonstration of the power of media, we have it now. The battle for media control
has moved into the center of the war. Despite the violation of international law
associated with bombing a television station, the US forces continue to try to
do it in Iraq. Suddenly we are back in the Romania of l989, or the Russia of '91
as the fight for the TV power becomes a centerpiece the campaign to deligitimize
US forces have been targeting
the TV towers in Baghdad the way they did in Belgrade. And they still haven't
taken it off the air despite all the cruise missiles, smart bombs, bunker busters,
JDAMs and who knows what else, they have thrown at them. At the Centcom briefing
this morning-comfortably televised from the million dollar air conditioned media
center in Doha by another type of controlled TV-there was suggestions that the
Iraqis had built redundant systems anticipating just such an attack. They have
also leased time on satellites.
PROPAGANDA FRONT AND CENTER
The Media war has moved
center stage with briefers describing their own propaganda initiatives, ie. taking
over Channel 3, and launching radio stations that Clear Channel communications
are likely to pick up for a song when the war ends. As the American TV commentators
buzz about whether of not that was the "real" Saddam we saw in the streets with
cheering supporters yesterday.
(As for the briefings,
here's a disturbing side bar. Last week we cited NY Magazine columnist Michael
Wolff's report lambasting the phoniness of the whole Doha disinformation enterprise.
When he returned to New York, he reportedly discovered that Radio talk show host
Rush Limbaugh had been blasting him on the air and calling on his listeners to
bombard him with emails. Rush gave out his e-mail address out and his ditto heads
dutifully overloaded his computer. So much for freedom of expression.)
No one commented on the
contrast between President Bush flanked by cheering soldiers in North Carolina
and the Iraqi leaders being embraced by his people in the streets. The Iraqis
are showing tapes of what they call martyrs-most recently women with rifles calling
for more resistance. Our media calls them suicide bombers as if they are ending
their lives for personal, not political reasons. At Centcom, the Major General
of the Moment characterizes the entire Iraqi resistance as suicidal because of
the disparity in fire power.
He along with US TV sees
the war in military terms. The Iraqis and much of the world view it politically.
Oddly enough the US administration views it politically too-but in much more self-interested
terms as the NY Times reports today: 'The invasion of Iraq has accelerated with
stunning speed in less than a week, taking some of the political heat off President
Bush." He knows that "winning" the war is a key to winning reelection.
CNN AND AL JAZEERA COVERING
This contrast of images
is also seen on TV when you compare CNN's antiseptic and sanitized coverage to
Al Jazeera's depiction of a far bloodier conflict. (Al Jazeera is now back in
Baghdad after shutting down when a reporter was ousted.) The Wall Street Journal
led with a story bout this media war yesterday. Emily Nelson reports:
"The two networks, with
unprecedented access to the battlefields of Iraq, are playing a powerful role
in shaping perceptions of the war. The gulf between the two views could even have
an impact on U.S. policy in the Middle East. A look at 24 consecutive hours of
programming on CNN and al-Jazeera reveals the many differences, both dramatic
"CNN offers human-interest
features with the families of U.S. POWs. Al-Jazeera keeps updating the war's death
toll. CNN refers to "coalition forces," al-Jazeera to "invading Americans." CNN
viewers expect the latest technology, such as lipstick cameras and night vision,
and they get it. Al-Jazeera has had unusual access in places such as Baghdad and
Basra, so it could offer its audience a street-level view of the war's impact
on Iraqis. CNN's correspondents were all either pulled out or kicked out of Baghdad.
"Many Arabs and Americans
believe the other audience is being fed propaganda. But there is more than ideology
at work at the two networks. Both are business operations competing for viewers
and advertisers against increasingly aggressive rivals and avidly seeking to please
their target audiences."
ARNETT ON THE AIR
Peter Arnett is also back
on the air for Baghdad. AP reports on its former staffer: "Within days of being
fired by the U.S. network NBC, Arnett found an unlikely new audience Thursday:
the Dutch-speaking - and hopefully English-comprehending - citizens of northern
"Thanks Peter Arnett,
we are proud to have you on our team," said VTM news anchor Dany Verstraeten after
Arnett finished his first report for the private Belgian TV network.
"VTN said it will have
daily reports from one of the world's most famous reporters until the end of the
war. Also Thursday, a state-run TV channel in Greece said Arnett would soon be
providing nightly dispatches for it, too. "this story also shows how TV networks
around the world do not share the values and viewpoints of the US based cable
"Arnett, who apologized
for his "misjudgment," told VTM he was a "casualty of the information war." "There
are two wars taking place, You have the war of bullets and bombs, then you have
the information war," he said. He complained he was making "just obvious statements"
about the war that should not have backfired the way they did. "This caused a
firestorm in America. I was called a traitor," he said, adding NBC "let me crash
PRO-WAR MEDIA RELENTLESS
On the pro-war side of
the media war, we have an assessment to share from the Steve Johnson of the Chicago
Tribune who explains what Fox News is doing right. (I used that word knowingly.)
"They report. We deride.
"We deride Fox News Channel
for saying "us" and "our" in talking about the American war effort, a strategy
that conjures images of gung-ho anchor Shepard Smith, like Slim Pickens in "Dr.
Strangelove," riding a Tomahawk straight into Baghdad.
"We deride Fox for playing
ratings politics with the news, turning Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers' public
call Tuesday for media to be "fair and balanced" into a back-door endorsement,
pointing out frequently afterward that the general had echoed a Fox News marketing
This, the folks in the
bunker at Fox would argue, is due to the rest of the media's liberal agenda, an
agenda Fox News slyly re-alleges with every repetition of "fair and balanced"
(the others aren't) and "we report; you decide" ("they" don't give you that chance).
"A less calculatedly paranoid
worldview would recognize that scrutiny is the price of success, of the channel
becoming, in a sense, the Scud stud of this Persian Gulf conflict. Ratings during
the war have confirmed that Roger Ailes' and Rupert Murdoch's upstart operation
has become the clear leader in cable news popularity." (Should that be "cheer
"Fox News has held the
lead it built in peacetime by following its well-established and fairly simple
recipe: dollops of news reported by comely anchors and correspondents tossed atop
a main dish of attitude and argument led by charismatic and right-leaning hosts."
This piece is worth studying because Steve is right, knocking Fox or dismissing
it is too easy. We need to study its formula and understand its appeal."
BREAKING NEWS IS HARD
Fox is not the only offender
of journalistic practice as FAIR points out in a dissection of one incident in
which subsequent accounts in newspapers that I cited in an earier column contradicted
the initial TV report and the impression it fostered.
recent Washington Post article describing the killing of civilians by U.S. soldiers
at a checkpoint outside the Iraqi town of Najaf proved that "embedded" journalists
do have the ability to report on war in all its horror. But the rejection by some
U.S. outlets of Post correspondent William Branigin's eyewitness account in favor
of the Pentagon's sanitized version suggests that some journalists prefer not
to report the harsh reality of war.
"The Pentagon version
was the one first reported in U.S. media-sometimes in terms that assumed that
the official account was factual. "What happened there, the van with a number
of individuals in it...approached the checkpoint," reported MSNBC's Carl Rochelle
(3/31/03). "They were told to stop by the members of the 3rd Infantry Division.
They did not stop, warning shots were fired. Still they came on. They fired into
the engine of the van. Still it came on, so they began opening fire on the van
"Fox's John Gibson (3/31/03)
presented the story in similar terms: "We warn these cars to stop. If they don't
stop, fire warning shots. If they don't stop then, fire into the engine. If they
don't stop then, fire into the cab. And today some guys killed some civilians
after going through all those steps."
But later on the night
of March 31, the Post released its story on the shooting that would appear in
the April 1 edition of the paper. Branigin's report described U.S. Army Capt.
Ronny Johnson's attempts to avoid the incident as he directed his troops via radio
from the checkpoint:
"Fire a warning shot,'
he ordered as the vehicle kept coming. Then, with increasing urgency, he told
the platoon to shoot a 7.62mm machine-gun round into its radiator. 'Stop [messing]
around!' Johnson yelled into the company radio network when he still saw no action
being taken. Finally, he shouted at the top of his voice, 'Stop him, Red 1, stop
him!',,," In short what happened, according to close observers is not quite what
was first reported and rationalized.
ASHAMED OF BEING A JOURNALIST
Across the globe, veteran
Israeli journalist Uri Avneri is sounding the same alarm. He, too has coined a
word, but you won't hear it on TV. It is "presstitute." He explains: "In the Middle
Ages, armies were accompanied by large numbers of prostitutes. In the Iraq war,
the American and British armies are accompanied by large numbers of journalists.
I coined the Hebrew equivalent of "presstitution" when I was the editor of an
Israeli newsmagazine, to denote the journalists who turn the media into whores.
Physicians are bound by the Hippocratic oath to save life as far as possible.
Journalists are bound by professional honor to tell the truth, as they see it.
OH, THE HORROR
Let's go back to that
whole issue of civilian casualties, hardly a subject of much media focus. Yesterday,
I noted that reference is made to the use of cluster bombs without any descriptions
being offered of their lethal weapon. We have all seen the graphics detailing
the various planes and their specs. But what about the bombs and there consequences.
As it turns out, Pepe Escobar wrote about this yesterday on Asia Times Online
(not the NY Times off-line.)
He writes: "Reports from
the Hilla region of Iraq, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, say that scores of civilians,
many of them children, have been killed and hundreds more injured by cluster bombs.
Gruesome images of mutilated bodies are being shown on Arab television stations.
But for Western viewers, this ugly side to the war has been sanitized.
a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq, describes
what happened in Hilla as "a horror, dozens of severed bodies and scattered limbs."
Initially, Murtada Abbas, the director of Hilla hospital, was questioned about
the bombing only by Iraqi journalists--and only Arab cameramen working for Reuters
and Associated Press were allowed on site. What they filmed is horror itself--the
first images shot by Western news agencies of what is also happening on the Iraqi
frontlines: babies cut in half, amputated limbs, kids with their faces, a web
of deep cuts caused by American shellfire and cluster bombs. Nobody in the West
will ever see these images because they were censored by editors in Baghdad: only
a "soft" version made it to worldwide TV distribution.
WHERE IS HE?
What we do see from time
to time out of Baghdad are those TV images of Saddam Hussein with many commentators
skeptical of when they were videotaped. An explanation for that mystery was offered
up yesterday by Albawaba.com. This report suggests that the Iraqis may be more
media savvy than they are being given credit for and that Arab news sources are
closer to the story. Check this out: "A number of reliable sources inside Baghdad
report that two days before the start of the war Saddam disappeared into a hidden
command center, in a location unknown even to his ministers. Since then, sources
say that Saddam has not met in person with his top ministers, and has not talked
to them directly by telephone. His instruction are delivered to them by messengers
in writing or in video and audio cassettes. Saddam does not use the telephone
or fax, which he believes can be intercepted or tracked by the Americans.
"According to the sources,
Saddam Hussein's second son, Qusai is believed to be the only person to know exactly
where the Iraqi leader is staying.
"Saddam's own appearances
on television are all recordings that were made before the war started, and he
has not made any new television appearances since he went into underground. Workers
at Iraqi Television spoke of a vault inside the Information Ministry with hundreds
of recordings, each inscribed only with two letters and a number. It is said that
Saddam decides which of the tapes to air on television by a short note indicating
the code of the appropriate cassette. Three different taped recordings for when
the Americans are about to enter Baghdad are already waiting at the television,
they added, delivered on Tuesday this week." (See GVnews.net)
WHAT EUROPE READS
Sources like these are
being believed more than US TV news reports, according to USA Today: "Channel-surf
from Britain's BBC to Germany's ZDF, or flip through newspapers from Spain to
Bangkok, and one finds stories that tilt noticeably against the war and in favor
of besieged Iraqi civilians. Often, these are emotional first-person accounts
of visiting hospitals or bombed-out apartments, accompanied by graphic photos
of the dead and dying that would never appear in U.S. outlets. "Most Europeans
do not support this war, and so the coverage is simply a reflection of that,"
says Giuseppe Zaffuto, project director at the European Journalism Centre in Maastricht,
the Netherlands. For now, it seems much of the world's media still need to be
convinced of Washington's position."
We still don't know why
al-Jazeera was booted from Baghdad and according to them, at least officially,
they don't either. An official statement says: "The Iraqi Information Ministry
told al-Jazeera office in Baghdad its decision to ban Diar al-Omari, al-Jazeera's
Baghdad correspondent, from practicing his journalistic duties. The decision also
included that Tayseer Allouni should leave Iraq as soon as possible. The ministry
did not provide any reasons for that decision. Al-Jazeera network is sorry for
this unpredictable and unreasonable decision by the ministry." (NOTE; After writing
this, I heard a former Al-Jazeera correspondent explain that one of the journalists
the Iraqis objected too was considered too pro-Islamic while another, an Iraqi,
was deemed insufficently deferential to President Saddam.)
IT HELPS TO HAVE FRIENDS
IN HIGH PLACES
Guess who is going back
to the front. The well politically connected Faux News Network seems to have made
a few calls and Geraldo Rivera is going back. Reports the NY Post: "The Pentagon
says Geraldo Rivera is welcome to go back into Iraq with U.S. troops now that
he's "learned his lesson." Quote: "It was a stunning turn-around for Geraldo,
who appeared just 24 hours ago to be on the verge of a career meltdown. Rivera's
latest gaffe infuriated U.S. war commanders who--at one point Tuesday--threatened
to remove him physically from the battle zone if he did not "voluntarily" agree
to leave." There were antiwar, anti-media protests yesterday at Fox News HQ in
WHAT THE POLLS SHOW DEPENDS
ON WHAT POLLS YOU READ
How does the public feel
about the war coverage? TV Guide's Max Robins cites a poll that says they can't
get enough. The Gallup people meanwhile offer an opposite conclusion: their poll
shows a sharp decrease in the percentage of Americans who rate media coverage
as "excellent" since the wargasm coverage began. Say the pollsters: 'Interestingly,
those Americans who support the war with Iraq are most likely to rate the media
coverage positively. At the same time, war supporters are also the most likely
to have downgraded their views of news coverage since the war began, suggesting
that this group is most sensitive to how the war is being portrayed.
Ahmed Bouzid writes: "Please
consider writing on this alarming bit of news. First the NYSE boots out al-Jazeera
reporters, then al-Jazeera's web site is hacked into and brought down, and now
they are trying to kick it out of the Dish Network so that the millions who get
al-Jazeera here in the US won't be able to anymore. This is truly appalling--especially
that it is happening while US soldiers are supposedly dying to spread democracy
and free speech..."
Meanwhile the NY Times
reports: "In a move sure to complicate the efforts of al-Jazeera, the Arabic news
network, to get its English-language Web site running, Akamai Technologies abruptly
canceled a contract on Wednesday to provide Web services for the site.
Employees at al-Jazeera
headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said they were frustrated by the decision, though
not entirely surprised. "It has nothing to do with technical issues," said Joanne
Tucker, the managing editor of the English-language site. "It's nonstop political
pressure on these companies not to deal with us."
Akamai, based in Cambridge,
Mass., would not comment on the reason for the cancellation. But Jeff Young, a
company spokesman, issued a statement confirming that Akamai would no longer do
business with al-Jazeera." Readers in Cambridge might visit this firm and discuss
this "business" decision.
the New York Times
Baghdad are walking a tightrope
NEW YORK As the battle
for Baghdad gets under way, Western reporters in the Iraqi capital are engaged
in an increasingly delicate dance, trying to portray events and public sentiment
accurately without running afoul of the government.
The reporters in Baghdad
are more often than not accompanied by jittery government minders, whose very
presence prompts Iraqi interview subjects to launch into pro-Saddam Hussein statements.
By weaving the few hints of anti-government sentiment they do pick up into their
reports, they risk expulsion - or inadvertently sending their interview subjects
Their efforts have come
in for growing criticism. Peter Arnett, the longtime war correspondent, was dropped
by NBC News and "National Geographic Explorer" this week after he gave an interview
to Iraqi state television in which he said President George W. Bush's war plan
Some of Arnett's colleagues
attributed his appearance to a desire to stay on the good side of his minders.
And then Wednesday night,
Britain's home secretary, David Blunkett, speaking at John Jay College of Criminal
Justice in New York, complained that Western news organizations were treating
Iraqi-supervised reports from Baghdad as the "moral equivalent" of those from
coalition sources. "We have broadcast media behind what we would describe as enemy
lines, reporting blow by blow what is happening," he said. "Those of a progressive,
or liberal bent, in my view, are egged on into believing that this is the right
way to get to the true facts."
While the remarks were
met with a cool reception by American news executives, their counterparts in Britain
were more exercised.
"Reports from the BBC's
team in Baghdad are a key part of the complex jigsaw that forms the overarching
story of the conflict," said Richard Sambrook, director of BBC News in London.
"We just see it as a core
journalistic duty to be there, and to have eyewitnesses reporting," he added.
Yet correspondents in Baghdad acknowledge that the unvarnished truth is as hard
to come by in Iraq's capital as "I-heart-Bush" bumper stickers.
They have had to develop
a sixth sense to distinguish between fear-inspired rhetoric and heartfelt emotions.
"There is a community
pressure to follow the government line. No one will give you the truth on the
street," said Richard Engel, a free-lance correspondent in Baghdad for ABC News.
"You can get a sense that you're wasting your time if you're talking to people
and they start singing the government's praises and pretending like they're on
a pro-Saddam video."
Nic Robertson, a CNN correspondent
in Baghdad who was asked to leave Iraq two weeks ago by the government, said:
"When minders are around, you can see people have a hard problem opening up and
being honest. A lump will rise in people's throats because they know they have
to give the right answer."
The presence of the minders,
although mentioned in most broadcast reports and newspaper articles, does tilt
the coverage. Anger at the allies, and pro-Saddam rhetoric, is reported far more
freely than are accounts of brutality and fear.
and their editors acknowledge that this puts the allies at a distinct public relations
But reporters who remain
say they are still able to paint an accurate picture of life in Baghdad even as
coalition troops move in on the city.
"I feel confident that
people are expressing their genuine feelings when they say 'Well, I'm Iraqi, my
country is being attacked,'" said Rageh Omaar, a BBC correspondent in Baghdad.
"They'll ask: 'What kind
of government am I going to have? Is it going to be run out of Washington and
London? That's been interesting reporting and it's important to get out."
Samia Nakhoul, a correspondent
in Baghdad for Reuters, said in a telephone interview that she believed the authorities
were overwhelmed by the estimated 150 reporters in the country. "Before, you couldn't
leave an Iraqi hotel without a minder," she said. "Now you can go, they are so
busy, they have too many journalists to accommodate."
The executive producer
of "World News Tonight" on ABC-TV, Paul Slavin, said he would try to avoid reading
too much into supposed public opinion in Iraq.
"I am as wary of pro-Saddam
sentiment as I am of pro-United States sentiment," Slavin said. "If I had a bunch
of fedayeen and Republican Guard around me, I'd say, 'Yeah Saddam!' But if I had
a bunch of American soldiers around me, I'd say, 'Yeah America!' We're going to
try not to draw any broad conclusions out of any of this."
Signs of fatigue
in wall-to-wall Iraq TV war
Marr, European media correspondent
Friday April 4,
LONDON (Reuters) - Fed
up with endless television images of bombs ripping through Baghdad, soldiers in
heated combat and sandstorms sweeping across the Iraqi desert?
From Shanghai to Seattle,
the answer is increasingly "yes".
As the Gulf conflict enters
its third week, armchair warriors are showing signs of war fatigue after being
bombarded with round-the-clock coverage of the U.S.-led march on Baghdad.
Despite dramatic scenes
not seen since the Vietnam war, television audiences in many countries are slipping
from their peak when the battle began.
Even viewers in the Arab
world, who were glued to Arabic news channels such as al-Jazeera at the start
of the war, are showing signs of tiring of repeated pictures of bombed-out buildings,
bloodied Iraqis and dead soldiers.
"I got bored," said Egyptian
tailor Hassan Abdo in Cairo, gesturing to a TV set in his shop showing Arabic
music videos. Previously, he watched nothing but news in the initial days of the
"I got sick of the same
gory pictures and the same depressing news. The only news I want to hear now is
that this war is over."
Dubbed the television
war from the outset, an army of reporters have served up a constant flow of gung-ho
images from the front lines. But many viewers who tuned in eagerly at the start
are now turning to sitcoms, game shows and movies.
Media pundits say it's
not all over for television though.
"If it gets a bit more
dramatic, television will make a comeback. People will want to know about it.
In general though, there's been less interest than some channels had expected,"
said Tom Deitz, media analyst at Merrill Lynch in London.
Despite the tail-off,
huge numbers of viewers around the world are still tuning into news programmes
and dedicated 24-hour news channels, keeping ratings well above normal.
In the United States,
news junkies have given a boost to 24-hour cable news outlets such as the Fox
News Channel and CNN after the network broadcasters reverted to regular programming.
European news channels
such as Sky News and BBC World have also jumped ahead, while in the Arab world,
al-Jazeera has made a big name for itself with sometimes controversial footage.
But news ratings have
fallen sharply from their highs. For example, Fox News, the most watched 24-hour
cable TV channel in the United States, has seen its average audience fall from
4.39 million viewers when the U.S.-led assault kicked off, to some three million
viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
"I don't want a play-by-play.
I want to know when the war is going to be over," said New York-based graduate
student Mary Anne Talotta, who initially joined the rush of viewers.
Television companies are
also finding the war expensive to report and advertising revenues are not covering
"Television is great for
watching dynamic action over a short period of time and watching events unfold.
But viewers lose interest over a prolonged period of time," Simon Baker, media
analyst at SG Securities in London, said.
Indeed, viewers have bailed
out as the war looks set to drag on and as they struggle to digest an overwhelming
amount of information beamed back from the battlefields.
"I watch the highlights
and read the papers, and frankly that's all the news I want. It's tiring and I
just want it to finish," Egyptian housewife Maha said.
Some viewers are switching
"Eventually, there comes
the stage when we go home and don't turn on the television. Because you know,
more or less, what is happening already. Same names, same bridges, same offensive,"
Israeli talk show host Yehoram Gaon said on Israel Radio.
The Christian Science Monitor
a tough balancing act for Egypt TV
By Danna Harman
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
April 04, 2003
CAIRO - Minutes before
the afternoon program at Nile News, dozens of mobile phones ring all at once,
unanswered. Women in head scarves surf Google's Arabic news site. A technician
tinkers with the link to Baghdad. And a panting messenger races in with a tape
from an antiwar demonstration in nearby Alexandria.
The afternoon news editor,
Hani Fathi, checks the lineup: The demonstration, some 25,000 people strong, will
be folded into a broader piece on protests worldwide, going in toward the end
of the program, right after the briefing by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
While intense antiwar
and anti-American sentiment continue to grow in Egypt, the state-run TV station
here - from which the vast majority of Egyptians get their news - is working overtime
to retain a semblance of neutrality about the war.
But this approach to war
coverage goes beyond the professional call of duty and gets at the heart of the
complicated, somewhat conflicted attitude of Egypt's leadership. Analysts say,
President Hosni Mubarak needs to convince Egyptians that his sympathies are clearly
against the war and with Iraq's people while at the same time taking care not
to alienate Washington, a close ally which gives Egypt $2 billion annually in
In order to reflect a
sober, united Egypt, Mr. Mubarak oversees all channels of public expression. His
reach extends from the tenor of the demonstrations, to the statement of the religious
clerics, to the way the whole war is presented in the state media. His minister
of information sits on the ninth floor of the TV building.
"The images we see upset
us here, of course, and our personal emotions are strong and yes, we are angry,"
says Fathi. "But we must, as professionals, disconnect and steer toward balance."
"What takes priority depends
on what's happening, and on what's important to our viewers," he says, signing
off on the line up, " ... and to the leadership."
cable stations, such as the Qatar-based Al Jazeera, may call coalition forces
"invaders," turn suicide attacks into "martyrdom operations," and fill their screens
with gore and long reports on antiwar demonstrations. But not here.
"Our point of view is
that we are against the war. We did not want it. But we also want to be responsible
in what we present," says Hassan Hamed, CEO of the Egyptian Radio and TV Union,
whose offices sprawl out on the eighth floor, right below those of the minister.
"Of course, there is a
cultural linkage between Egyptians and the Iraqi people. We do not conceal our
emphasis or interest. Our hearts are with those people, and we need to reflect
that in our coverage - but we try not to be sensationalist. We do not want to
inflame Egyptians any more."
"Egyptian TV is owned
and run by the Egyptian government, so you can not expect it to reflect anything
other than the official Egyptian perspective," adds Hussein Amin, chairman of
the department of journalism and mass communication at the American University
in Cairo. "It is a balancing act all around."
Speaking in Suez on Monday,
Mubarak showed himself a master at such an act - warning that US actions would
only serve to "create 100 [Osama] bin Ladens" and charging that war would have
catastrophic effects - even as he insisted that international commitments obliged
Egypt to keep the Suez Canal open to all vessels, including coalition warships.
Mubarak has also granted US warplanes overflight rights. Tuesday, he announced
that a senior Iraqi diplomat in Cairo, thought to be working for Iraqi intelligence,
would be expelled.
The expulsion was mentioned
on TV only in passing; the overfly rights forgotten completely that day. Meanwhile,
when a poster of Mubarak was burned at an antiwar demonstration downtown last
week, no one watching Nile News or any other program created in the TV building
would have heard about it at all.
"We can take some liberties,
but only to a certain extent," says Fathi. "We use our judgment. We have to inform
on what's happening ... but we don't want outbursts in this country."
Before charging Egyptian
media with self-censorship, it would be better to see what is going on these days
in American media, quip those who work here.
"US coverage does not
impress me at all. They don't care about being neutral and go about bragging about
US military prowess," says Hamed. "When my wife sees me watching US network coverage
on cable she asks: Why do you torture yourself?"
Hala Hashish, President
of Nile TV International, the foreign-language arm of Egyptian TV, is busy reviewing
an interview with the US ambassador to Cairo, which will air in its entirety on
her evening program. "Look, proof we show all sides!" she says. "The American
public is much more brainwashed. The media there is acting in a way we used to
be accused of years ago - that is picking and choosing the news that suits their
agenda. In Egypt this sort of news does not fly anymore."
"Sometimes I feel we have
too much neutrality and freedom in Egypt," adds Attiya Shakran, director of the
Government Press Office. "The Arab voice in [Washington] does not get as much
airtime as we give American voices in Cairo."
In a country where ordinary
Egyptians are reportedly using their mobile phones to dial any number in Iraq,
picked at random, and declare their solidarity with the Iraqi people - it's no
surprise that Nile News gets a lot of viewer complaints. Some call in to ask for
more images of "the Iraqi heroic stand," others ring up to say they don't want
to hear another word about the Kurdish opposition, and others still write long,
furious letters denouncing the segments on US troops bringing in humanitarian
"Many people accuse us
of being unpatriotic, even un-Arab," Hamed admits. "But we are just trying to
tell it like it is ... which is not easy."
just as fair as CNN
By Chris Suellentrop
April 2, 2003, at 4:37 PM PT
If you doubt that Al Jazeera
is the clear winner of the Iraq war so far (other than U.S. forces), check out
the most recent Lycos 50, a tally of the most-searched-for words and phrases on
the Lycos search engine. The 24-hour Arabic-language TV news network rocketed
to the top of the list for last week, outpacing Web standbys such as KaZaA and
Pamela Anderson, not to mention hot topics of the moment such as POWs and the
Dixie Chicks. Perhaps the wave of Web surfers was to be expected, given the network's
attempted launch of an English-language Web site and the recent controversies
it has provoked by airing grisly footage of Iraqi civilian casualties and American
POWs. More surprising, however, has been the sympathetic coverage Al Jazeera has
been receiving in the American press, from the New York Times editorial page to
regional sources including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Buffalo News.
The network once deemed the inflammatory fuel of Islamic radicalism has now been
pronounced by the paper of record as "the kind of television station we should
What changed? Certainly
not Al Jazeera. The network still presents a pro-Arab slant on the news of the
day, including the war in Iraq. A visit to the Al Jazeera Web site Wednesday morning
turned up images that portray Iraqi civilians as invaded rather than liberated:
rotating photos of wounded children with patches over their eyes and blood on
their faces next to a separate image of a mournful woman standing in front of
rubble. This emphasis on Iraqi civilian casualties is consistent with the approach
the TV network has taken to covering the war, according to those who have watched
Al Jazeera's TV coverage in Arabic. "They focus on the casualties. They show very
gruesome images of civilian casualties that we don't see on America media," says
Mohammed El-Nawawy, co-author of the admiring book Al Jazeera: How the Free Arab
News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East.
So, it's not as if Al
Jazeera has morphed into the news as told by Lee Greenwood. Or even that Al Jazeera
has morphed into CNN. Rather, it's fairer to say that since the war began, CNN-and
American TV news in general-has become more like Al Jazeera. To those who have
tarred him as pro-war and pro-administration, CNN's Aaron Brown replied: "I think
there is some truth in it." Fox's Neil Cavuto was blunter: "You say I wear my
biases on my sleeve? Better that than pretend you have none, but show them clearly
in your work." Cavuto's comments echo a statement made by Al Jazeera's Ramallah
correspondent to 60 Minutes in May 2001 about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
"To be objective in this area is not easy because we live here. We are part of
the people here. And this situation belongs to us also, and we have our opinions."
American TV news has always
presented an American perspective, just as Al Jazeera presents an Arab perspective.
But in wartime, the American slant has become more obvious, and as a result Al
Jazeera's Arab slant has become less objectionable. Less than 18 months ago, Fouad
Ajami declared in a long New York Times Magazine article that Al Jazeera was "a
dangerous force." But in the wake of this war's coverage by the American media,
his fears and criticisms sound quaint. Ajami blasted the channel's "shameless"
promos, including a montage of scenes that portrayed a clear sympathy for the
Palestinians. But how different are MSNBC's or CNN's montages of heroic American
soldiers set to patriotic, martial music? Or the recurring shots of Americans
saving babies and handing out candy to children? Ajami also criticized Al Jazeera
for focusing too much on the tragedy of a single individual, 12-year-old Muhamed
al-Durra, a Palestinian shot and killed in Gaza. But American networks pull similar
heartstring-tugging tricks, the latest being the mediathon over the rescue of
Jessica Lynch, a single American POW. (American television ignores, for the most
part, the lives and the deaths of Brits and Iraqis.)
This is not to say that
Al Jazeera and American TV news are equivalents. For one thing, Al Jazeera still
receives funding from the monarchical government of Qatar, and even fans like
El-Nawawy rap Al Jazeera for refraining from tough coverage-or any coverage-of
Qatari politics. But Al Jazeera, with its Fox-like slogan "The opinion and the
other opinion," is the closest thing the Arab world has to an independent press.
Particularly in wartime,
the best a network can hope for is what El-Nawawy and his co-author, Adel Iskandar,
call "contextual objectivity"-an attempt "to reflect all sides of any story while
retaining the values, beliefs and sentiments of the target audience." Based on
the recent wave of positive coverage in the American media, Al Jazeera is at least
approaching that standard. It's telling the American side of the story, even as
its sympathies clearly lie with the plight of the Iraqi people, whom the network,
fairly or unfairly, sees as suffering under both Saddam Hussein and the American-led
invasion to remove him.
From the opposite perspective,
the U.S. networks are doing the same: giving lip service to the Arab view of the
war, while endorsing the American view that the conflict is just and necessary.
The war has given lie to the idea that American journalists don't have opinions.
One question: Why must we return to the lie when it's time for peace?
against snap judgments
Full text of Straw's
Foreign secretary Jack
Straw today warned of the dangers of making snap judgments on the basis of television
coverage of the war in Iraq, claiming that both world wars would have been harder
to win in an age of 24-hour rolling news.
And he conceded that the
fact there have been relatively few TV pictures of the humanitarian disaster caused
by the Iraqi regime over the past 12 years had weakened the moral arguments for
Speaking to an audience
of regional newspaper executives, Mr Straw said the competing pressures on the
government and the media in times of war were "immense".
"Ministers must weigh
the release of information about the military campaign against the possibility
that it might benefit our opponents and endanger our troops.
"Meanwhile, the media
is rightly driven by other imperatives, the need to penetrate the fog of war,
to make definitive judgments on the basis of fragments, and to deliver breaking
news to an eager public," he said.
During the past week ministers
from prime minister Tony Blair downwards have become increasingly alarmed at the
relentless pressure created by 24-hour TV news channels, and the localised, snapshot
view of the war provided by reporters embedded with the invading armies.
Mr Straw pointed the finger
at the news media, claiming the reaction to last week's disputed bombing of a
market in Baghdad was a prime example of the dangers of the need for immediate
reaction to events.
"It's increasingly probable
that this was the result of Iraqi - not coalition - action. Yet when the story
broke and we promised an inquiry, some chose to characterise our response as an
admission of guilt. It usually takes time for the truth to catch up with the image,"
Mr Straw today also argued
that both world wars could have ended in defeat in the era of 24-hour news, speculating
that the "Dunkirk spirit" would have been irreparably damaged had the British
public been subjected to pictures of German battle victories.
"Had the public been able
to see live coverage from the [first world war] trenches, I wonder for how long
the governments of Asquith and Lloyd George could have maintained the war effort.
Imagine the carnage of the Somme on Sky and BBC News 24," he said.
"But it is also worth
speculating how much harder it might have been to maintain the country's morale
after Dunkirk had live reports confronted the public with the brutal reality of
German technical and military superiority," added Mr Straw.
His remarks echo comments
made in the Observer on Sunday in which Mr Straw wondered whether it would have
been possible to evacuate 300,000 troops from Dunkirk under the scrutiny of 24-hour
"The media is changing
the reality of warfare, it is not just reporting on it. It compresses the timescales,"
he told the paper.
In his speech today, the
foreign secretary acknowledged the vital role the media play in a modern democracy.
He said, the benefits
of continuous reporting from the front line continued to outweigh the disadvantages,
paying tribute to "the bravery of the correspondents on the front line, including
those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of truth".
He also pointed to the
power of television, arguing that the lack of on-screen evidence of Saddam Hussein's
worst excesses had weakened the moral case against him.
"In Kosovo, Milosevic
underestimated the power of television. As the humanitarian catastrophe [of the
Racak massacre] was relayed live on our screens, the British prime minister's
moral case for a military response became unanswerable," he told an audience at
the Newspaper Society Annual Conference.
"This brings me to the
paradox of coverage about Iraq. For over two decades, Saddam Hussein has caused
a humanitarian crisis in Iraq and one which at least equals Milosevic's worst
excesses. But unlike Milosevic, Saddam Hussein has caused a humanitarian crisis
in Iraq and one which at least equals Milosevic's worst excesses. But unlike Milosevic,
Saddam Hussein has conducted his reign of terror off camera.So unlike Kosovo,
Iraq has not pricked the world's conscience through our television screens," he
"There are no TV cameras
in Saddam's torture chambers or in the darkest corners of Baghdad. But the suffering
and oppression are real. he added.
Mr Straw also used the
speech to play down expectations about the length of the war.
"There may be more setbacks
for coalition troops. As the regime enters its final stages, we will encounter
fierce resistance from those elements of the regime's apparatus of terror who
fate is tied to their tyrannical ruler," he said.
>>(Parties of the Conflict)
on Media: Introduction
Dilemmas of the Press