Iraq assignment desk: The rebuilding beat

Iraq assignment desk: The rebuilding beat

: If I were in charge of a bureau of reporters in Iraq — are you listening NY Times, Washington Post, FoxNews, NBC, CBS, ABC, Reuters, BBC? — I would assign one reporter, just one, to the rebuilding beat.

There are plenty of reporters — hell, every reporter in the country — assigned to the police beat, the blood-and-guts beat, the who-shot-whom today beat. When I worked in Chicago and San Francisco and New York, we had one or two reporters in the cop shop covering all that. We had hundreds of reporters covering the rest of life.

I see no reporters covering the rest of life in Iraq. The stories would be easy to get; all you have to do is read a few of the Iraqi weblogs. Read Zeyad or read Omar on the new economy. Or read posts like this from Mohammad:

My arrival day was the day when a rally of support and gratitude to the coalition passed the streets of Samawa. The scene was very delightful for me, I, who believe in the necessity of establishing a strategic partnership with the free world represented by the coalition, because this the only way for Iraq to rise again, prosper and join the modern, free world….

On the road to the residents

  • egger

    You make a good point, Jeff. Since recent polls show that as many as 80% of Iraqis want U.S. occupation forces to leave their country, stories about those who like us might fall under the category of “dog bites man.”

  • Syl

    I’m so tired of these little weenies dropping crap all over comments sections.

  • egger

    Guilty as charged, Syl. I meant to say “man bites dog.”
    So what happens when we give them democracy and they vote us off the island?

  • Ptolemy

    If they vote us off, we leave. But we promise to be nearby in case they pull a typical Arab screw up and become a danger again. No doubt you and the other Democrats will applaude anything that defeats your country in its goals.

  • syn

    I would like to add to the list of those who have something to say on the subject of Iraq:

  • Dash

    Obviously Iraqis want the US out. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything though. A similar number want the US to provide security and are glad Saddam is gone. The goal now is to make Iraq more able to police themselves, internationalize what remains to be done for outside security and aid.
    Excellent suggestion Jeff. I would love to see more about the good being done in Iraq.

  • John

    I would go one better, Jeff. I would hire one of these Iraqi bloggers or an equivalent (not all Iraqi’s of the caliber of these bloggers are bloggers) as a freelance reporter. Also, pay them comparably to the reporters they have sent to Iraq.
    Not only will we have the benefit you intend but also it will employ Iraqis; give us their view and not our view of their view; and we will see things that our reporters won’t notice.
    Your three references note the tip of the riches these folks write. I’ll point out, though, that Ali’s “Ibrahim and the Dark Future” not only is a great post on the economy but also a great story on how a father can teach his son.

  • I’d like to know how reliable (and from whom) are these “recent polls” that show that “80%” of the Iraqis want the US out. I would take any such info coming from that area with a grain of salt; it could be expedient for an Iraqi to say “US out!” but privately want the Americans to remain for a while at least. I’m sure there are a number of Iraqis, perhaps a majority, who are not so sure that everything will be just peachy once the coalition forces (not just the US) get up and leave, nor that things will be great should the UN take over. The UN’s record hasn’t been very good lately in the Middle East nor anywhere else it has taken over as “protector.”

  • Uncle Bill

    It would I’m afraid be an exercise in futility.
    The ‘good news’ reporter would just hunt for more bad news. That’s what he likes and that’s what his editor(s) like.

  • EdFay

    It takes about five seconds to cut through the whining about “bad-news” journos and media not looking for good news. Today the Times ran a piece that highlighted how Iraq’s economy is improving.
    This whole week was filled with somber and outright depressing stories about Iraq, but anyone who reads regularly (and does not consume the snack-sized TV tidbits) would have read stories about small businesses growing, libaries and museums getting going, polls (pre-abuse) saying the majority of the country wanted the Americans there, and so on and so on.

  • Steve C.

    Great point, but here’s how they would ultimately spin that one:
    We’re spending a gazillion dollars rebuilding the country. Much of that money is going to American contractors (does the name Halliburton ring a bell?).
    So, the “rebuilding” beat would wind up being the “let’s see how Halliburton is pissing away our tax dollars” beat.
    Still, a great idea to have more balanced news.

  • pianoman

    Didn’t most Germans and Japanese want “the US out” following WW2?
    As far as I can tell, we, uh, stayed.
    Which is what will happen in Iraq, even after democracy has taken root. The U.S. needs to maintain a base of operations in the Middle East, and Turkey ain’t it anymore. Nor is Saudi Arabia.
    As for the media covering the “good news”…
    I think it was Sensing’s site that used the term “The Template” for the first time. What is “The Template”? It’s the pre-written script that the media creates for purposes of properly depositing current news stories.
    “The Template” isn’t a new idea; it has been used by the free press for a long time. The current Template doesn’t allow the Nick Berg beheading or the false Abu Gharib photos stories (British tabloid press, Boston Globe porn photos) to flourish, so those stories are buried. The current Template *does* allow anything Israel does to protect itself to be presented as “war atrocities”, though.
    “The Rebuilding Of Iraq” isn’t in the Template. “The Raping Of Iraq By Evil Corporations Like Halliburton” *is* in the Template.
    “Sarin And Mustard Gas WMDs Found” isn’t in the Template. “Bush Lied About Iraq” is *still* in the Template.
    “UN Oil-For-Food Bribery And Graft Scandal” isn’t in the Template. “US Should Turn Iraq Over To UN Peacekeepers” *is* in the Template.
    There are many more such examples, and more get exposed by bloggers every day.
    I just returned from Europe where I spent 2 1/2 weeks on business. In order to get caught up on the news, I curled up for 3 hours with my blogroll. I didn’t turn on CNN, or read my local paper, or listen to the radio. Why? Because the Blogosphere doesn’t *have* a Template.