Media: War in Iraq a "Lifestyle Issue," Not News

Incremental coverage of the war in Iraq downplays the seriousness of the war and does the public a disservice.

At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, a recent Editor’s Desk response to criticism of the paper’s Iraq coverage wasn’t much better than no response at all.

A retired Globe-Democrat staffer called to criticize our day-in and day-out reporting on the war in Iraq. Not enough, not prominent enough, she said.

Five years into the war, is an8-inch story in the middle of Page A5 enough?
Points for snark, none for actually addressing the question on “day-in and day-out reporting.” The editor goes on to recount the obvious - “war news is more likely to be inside the main news section than on the front page” - as though the mere fact supplied its own explanation. Again:

In terms of news and interest, are those developments in Iraq worth greater display? Obviously, our news editors and page designers last night thought not.
Yes, obviously.

The reader who criticized the paper - a former staffer at the long-dead Globe-Democrat, a conservative rival to the P-D - charged the Post-Dispatch with liberal bias. That charge doesn’t hold water: you’d think that a media source run by flaming liberals would be more likely rather than less to run Iraq news.

The matter of unsatisfactory coverage of the war from media outlets in general, both print and electronic, is broader than the stories that appear - or don’t - in any single newspaper, regardless of ideological slant. A recent Zogby study commissioned by the Poynter Institute revealed than while 75 percent of those polled felt “well-informed” about Iraq, the majority were still not satisfied with the coverage they were getting:
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