Iraq Reporting Should Come With a Warning

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


At the Nation’s blog, Tom Engelhardt, reflecting on a comment by New York Times Iraq reporter that “98 percent of Iraq, and even most of Baghdad, has now become ‘off-limits’ for Western journalists,” has this to say:

Here’s the problem. I’ve been reading New York Times reportage since the invasion of Iraq began and I don’t remember running across a figure like that — and neither has just about anyone else who happens to have been reading a major paper in the US for the last year. When, way back in September 2004, an e-mail from the Wall Street Journal‘s fine reporter Farnaz Fassihi slipped into public view, suggesting that “[b]eing a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest,” it was treated as a scandal in the media; her “objectivity” was called into question; and (if memory serves) she was sent on vacation until after the presidential election. While there was a vigorous discussion in the British press of what came to be called “hotel journalism,” it was hardly a subject here, once you got past The New York Review of Books.

Tom’s solution: a sort of news consumer’s health warning:

Cigarette packs have their warning labels, as do vitamin supplements. Shouldn’t our news have the equivalent? How about little pie-chart icons before each Iraqi story suggesting what percentage of the news pie had been available that day. Or a warning label that might say: “This ordinary piece was put together by American reporters locked in their well-guarded and barricaded buildings from scraps of information delivered by Iraqi reporters who can’t even tell their families where they work for fear of assassination.”

Worth reading in full.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate