web counter Media Lies: Iraqi bloggers get noticed

Thursday, December 30, 2004

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Iraqi bloggers get noticed

The Dallas Morning News reprints an LA Times story about Iraqi bloggers. When I read this, I tried to imagine what it would be like for someone reading it who had never heard of blogs before.

I would imagine it would be confusing. The article never even explains what a blog is or even how it works. Fortunately there are links to some Iraqi blogs, so the reader could at least click on them (or type them in to their browser if they're reading the print edition) and try to find out more on their own.

Of course, the Times has to get in their obligatory shot at the war.
Unlike Iraq the Model, many of the blogs are critical of U.S. policy and policy-makers' spin. In A Family in Baghdad – the War Diary, the blog spluttered: "I don't know how these people think???" The blogger is Faiza Jarrar, a fortysomething engineer and mother of three. "Do they live like this in America?? People killing, looting, and committing all sins, is this really The Freedom??"
At least they admit that blogs fill a void that the media vacated and is unable to refill.
In its December issue, Foreign Policy journal calls the war in Iraq blogging's coming-out party, saying Pax and "myriad other online diarists, including U.S. military personnel, emerged to offer real-time analysis and commentary."

"I get the sense that one reason the Iraqis blog is that they don't feel that their lives and reactions to what is going on are understood in the outside world," says Rebecca MacKinnon, a research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "They know the world's listening."

Because of safety limits, "it's harder and harder for journalists to get out in the field and interview Iraqis," says Ms. MacKinnon, a former CNN bureau chief in Beijing and Tokyo. "The Web can get these voices out easily and cheaply."
Frankly, I don't think that it's that hard for journalists to get out in the field. They just don't want to. Steven Vincent wandered around Iraq for over a year, interviewing Iraqis. Others have done it as well. The fat cat media journalists just don't want to risk their big paychecks and 401Ks for the potential of being kidnapped or shot at.

Their forfeit of the field of action is haunting them now, as more and more people turn to the web and blogs to get their news, abandoning the "hard" journalists who no longer even tell the story, much less tell it accurately.