Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hotel Journalism

Bartle Bull, who has reported for the New York Times on Iraq has some harsh words for his MSM colleagues on its coverage of Iraq. Here's the first power quote:

I try to avoid the hotels and the green zone and the Fort Apache press compounds when I am here. Sometimes it seems as though I am on a different planet from my colleagues in big media, and at those moments I worry briefly that I am getting the story wrong. The people at NBC news are not even allowed to go to the restaurant in their hotel. They report from the roof. When I went to the BBC's Baghdad bunker for some interviews after the election, the reporters I had been watching on television asked me, "So what's it like out there in the real world?" They meant the Iraqi street.

Here's the second power quote:

The failure of "hotel journalism" might be forgivable if it were truly about prudence or even laziness. But there has been something willful about the bad reporting of this story. It is weirdly personal: Iraq must fail. It is in fact the press that failed, on a scale for which I cannot think of a precedent. Will the big media outlets demand the same accountability of themselves that they demand of everyone else? They should, for the success of these elections was not so surprising to those who dug below the surface of Iraq.

I have been critical of the MSM coverage in Iraq for its narrow focus on the soldiers dying and the insurgent attacks and not paying sufficient attention to other events such as the rebuilding effort. It's good to see someone in the MSM taking a critical look at its coverage.