War coverage drops in second quarter of 2007

According to a recent study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that the US media's coverage of the Iraq war has decreased during the second quarter of 2007.

The war in Iraq is still the most important issue for many Americans as we prepare to vote for George Bush's replacement, but according to a recent study, the US media's coverage of the war has dropped off during the second quarter of this year. As Reuters reports, much this of this decrease is largely due to the diminished focus on the Washington-based policy debate.

Taken together, the war's three major story lines -- the U.S. policy debate, events in Iraq and their impact on the U.S. homefront -- slipped roughly a third, to 15 percent of an index of total news coverage, down from 22 percent in the first three months of the year.
Was it Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton's skirmishes with law enforcement that became the top story for the second quarter this year? It might have seemed like it for a few weeks, but it turns out that the 2008 presidential election received the most coverage. It's unclear how much of the presidential coverage focused on Iraq, but clearly it's a central issue on the campaign..

The report cites May 24 as a turning point away from the Iraq policy debate. It was on that day that Congress approved a bill to fund the war that did not include time-tables for withdrawals. While the Reuters article doesn't spell this out specifically, once congress signed off on a plan to continue with business as usual there was little to report about Iraq that would differ from past coverage.

There are still remarkable stories coming out about the situation in Iraq, Alive in Baghadad and other alternative outlets continue to report on the people of Iraq but the mainstream media in the US continue to mostly focus on the American troops. In fact, "55 percent of coverage about events on the ground dealt with U.S. combat and casualties, U.S. troop activities and soldiers charged with crimes."

It remains to be seen how things will shape up in the third and fourth quarter of 2007, but with the presidential election approaching, and the war continuing its charted course, it seems likely that war coverage will continue to drop.
About the author

    Josh Wolf first became interested in the power of the press after writing and distributing a screed against his high school's new dress code. Within a short time, the new dress code was abandoned, and ever since then he's been getting his hands dirty deconstructing the media every step of the way. Wolf recently became the longest-incarcerated journalist for contempt of court in U.S. history after he spent 226 days in federal prison for his refusal to cooperate. In Media sphere, Josh shares his daily insights on the developing information landscape and examines how various corporate and governmental actions effect the free press both in the United States and abroad.


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