Media at war

Media at war
: A few notes from the start of the NY Mag/Guardian media/war confab:

: Gossip first: I introduce James Truman of Conde Nast to Nick Denton of Gawker.

“We stalk you,” Nick says.

“Well, stop,” James said.

A moment of British irony.

: The session starts with an agenda-dripping intro from a provost of the New School: “I have never been more concern and indeed angry about where the republic is headed today.” That set the course.

: Michael Wolff, the media columnist from New York, keeps trying to put the media right in the middle of the war, to make the media the story. That is, after all, the meat of a media critic.

“Was the war staged for our benefit?” he asks. “To what extend is war a staged event, a media event?”

That could be cosmic question: Is war the message?

But that’s not where he headed. He was counting column-inches.

: Paul Steiger, ME of the Wall Street Journal, was impressively level-headed and smart about all this.

“Sometimes we think over-much that it’s about us,” he said. “There is a tendance to overplay our role.”

: Much discussion of the Palestine Hotel shelling with an undercurrant — never said aloud — that journalists were targeted.

David Chater, a correspondent for SkyNews, gave this balance. He said that day, he saw the fiercest firefight he’d ever seen. “It’s extaordinary,” he said, “that they showed such restraint… I think it’s understandable that this happened.”

Much discussion also of the bombing of the Al-Jazeera offices that day, which Chater said was a bigger story.

Al-Jazeera D.C. correspondent Hafez Al-Mirazi said he did believe that the offices were targeted — not for killing but to get them off the air. He said it’s not just chance that they were hit. “Some people in our office are saying we should start buying lottery tickets if the odds are that much in our favor.”

: Reuters Middle East editor Barry Moody argues: “If there hand’t been journalists in Baghdad the possibility of civilian casualties would have been much higher.”

What a load. He’s saying that if there were not media witnesses, the U.S. would have gone on a killing spree. Crap.

: Chris Albritton, who raised money to go to Iraq for his blog, Back to Iraq, was there.

: Tom Rogers, former head of Primedia, owner of New York, came to the conference. He was ousted in a big change of strategy by KKR (that is: they want to sell off much of the empire). He showed loyalty to his former employees to come.