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Reporting on the Iraq War. How accurate?

A new book takes a close look at the triumphs, challenges and regrets of reporters working to cover the first three years of the Iraq war.

There seems little doubt, now, that the way the Iraq War has been reported has been less than either accurate or fully truthful. Just the practice of embedding journalists with the army has seen a less than objective reporting of what has been happening on the ground. And then there is the valid criticism made by people like Robert Fisk that those reporting from Baghdad do so from the confines and safety of a hotel room.

As Alternet reports in a piece "Reporting Iraq: Journalists' Coverage of a Censored War":

"The late British journalist James Cameron, known for his coverage of the Vietnam War, said of his journalism, "I may not have always been satisfactorily balanced; I always tended to argue that objectivity was of less importance than truth." Perhaps in times of peace, objectivity naturally hews closer to truth. But when leadership misleads (or, euphemisms be damned, lies to) the public, journalists bear a greater responsibility. "Reporting" can all too easily translate into providing a megaphone for intentionally misleading information.

It is these issues that are at the forefront of Reporting Iraq: An Oral History of the War by the Journalists Who Covered It. Comprised mainly of interviews with over 40 journalists who covered the war, Reporting Iraq offers a candid view of the difficulties and complexities of working in an environment so hostile to reporters.

In one episode Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post recalls the difficulty of getting any relevant information from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA): "Well, off the record," CPA advisor Dan Senor told him, "Paris is burning, but on the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq." Such double-speak motivated reporters to take great risks to find the facts -- and spurred a wartime environment where journalists have now come to rely heavily on Iraqi stringers who, unlike western reporters, are able move more freely around the country. Reporting Iraq takes a close look at the triumphs, challenges and regrets of reporters working to cover the first three years of the occupation of Iraq."


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