The American media’s coverage of the Iraq War in January 2009 may foreshadow the declining importance of the subject in the United States for the new year. As reported before, the American media allocated between 2-3% of its reporting to Iraq in 2008. This was a sharp decline from the beginning of 2007 when the war was a top five story and accounted for 25% of the news. By the end of the year it was down to 4%. In January 2009 Iraq accounted for only 1.25% of stories in the U.S.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellent in Journalism that monitories all forms of American media, from December 29, 2008 to February 1, 2009 Iraq made the top ten stories in the country three out of four weeks. From December 29 to January 4 Iraq was the number seven story in America with 2% of all coverage. The handover of the Green Zone to Iraqis as part of the Status of Forces Agreement was in the news at that time. The next week Iraq did not make the top ten. From January 19 to 25 Iraq just made the top stories at number ten and only 1% of the stories. The new Obama administration was discussing its war policy then. For the week of January 26 to February 1 Iraq was number six with 2% of coverage. That was the week of the January 31 provincial elections. That was the biggest news of the month in Iraq, yet didn’t make the top five stories in America, and only raised press coverage to the average of the previous year.
Iraq has been consistently pushed farther and farther out of the news since 2007. When American politicians stopped discussing Iraq policy in 2007 there was a decided drop in media coverage. In 2008 the economic crisis and the campaign for president pushed most other news stories off the front pages and television screens. In 2009 the new Obama administration, the continued problems with the economy, and the new emphasis on Afghanistan will be the major stories, leaving Iraq more and more an afterthought in the minds of the American public.
Baker, Peter and Shanker, Thom, “Obama Meets With Officials on Iraq, Signaling New Commitment to Ending War,” New York Times, 1/21/09
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence In Journalism, “PEJ News Coverage Index: December 29, 2008-January 4, 2009; Symbols And Substance Of Obama’s First Week Drive The Narrative,” 1/5/09
- “PEJ News Coverage Index: January 5-11, 2009; Symbols And Substance Of Obama’s First Week Drive The Narrative,” 1/12/09
- “PEJ News Coverage Index: January 19-25, 2009; Symbols And Substance Of Obama’s First Week Drive The Narrative,” 1/26/09
- “PEJ News Coverage Index: January 26 – February 1, 2009; The Economic Crisis Returns With A Vengeance,” 2/2/09
Robertson, Campbell and Farrell, Stephen, “Green Zone, Heart of U.S. Occupation, Reverts To Iraqi Control,” New York Times, 12/31/08
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