March 28, 2005

AMBER ALERT: Jason van Steenwyk notes a missing headline at The New York Times, and elsewhere in the news media. Meanwhile Lawrence Kaplan is noting the curious reluctance of the press to report good news from Iraq:

At what point does the press report a trend? The question comes to mind because, over the past month, the news from Iraq has been unusually good. Depending on which military official you ask, insurgent attacks have dropped by either a third or nearly half. The number of Americans killed in action has declined. Civilians have begun killing terrorists. Over the past week alone, U.S. forces have killed scores of insurgents in lopsided battles–in the latest, Iraqi forces spearheaded the offensive. Does this mean America has turned a corner? Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? Does it mean anything at all?

At least to judge by the amount of press coverage devoted to the past weeks’ progress in Iraq, the answer would seem to be no. . . . The overall tenor of press coverage suggests that, if anything, the reverse is true: Even as I write these words, ABC News’s Peter Jennings briefly relays news that U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 80 insurgents today, before moving on to a much longer and gloomier feature on the ingenuity of the resistance.

Kaplan wonders if journalists are so habituated to negative spin that they can’t, or won’t, recognize good news. Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff continues his effort to round up the good stuff that gets buried, though it’s telling that he leads with a story that was such good news “that even the New York Times had to sit up and take notice.” Though he notes that the Times still managed to insert an error that undermined its significance.