A July 2009 report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism chronicled the dramatic drop in media coverage of Iraq in the United States. The Pew Center keeps track of the top ten stories in America in its “New Coverage Index.” Based upon this information they charted how U.S. TV, radio, newspapers, and the internet have covered Iraq from 2007 to July 5, 2009. In the first quarter of 2007 Iraq was the top story in America, receiving 22.3% of all media coverage. After that, the number of stories dropped going from 15.5% of all stories in 2007 to 3.6% in 2008 to 2% in the first half of 2009.
U.S. Media Coverage of Iraq - % Of All Stories
1st quarter of 2007 22.3%
2nd quarter of 2007 14.8%
3rd quarter of 2007 16.1%
4th quarter of 2007 8.7
1st quarter 2008 5%
2nd quarter of 2008 4.4%
3rd quarter of 2008 3%
4th quarter of 2008 2.1%
1st quarter 2009 2.4%
2nd quarter 2009 1.7%
1st half of 2009 2%
The main job of U.S. news agencies is to report what’s going on. The major source of this information is the government. When Washington stopped talking about Iraq in 2007 with the debate on withdrawal ending and General Petraeus’ testimony to Congress over, so did America’s news. By 2009 Iraq had become the forgotten war in the press. In March Iraq did not make the top 10 news stories in America for an entire month for the first time. By June Iraq was not in the top ten of any of the four major media sources, TV, radio, newspapers, or internet for the four full weeks of the month. The recent withdrawal from Iraq’s cities on June 30, 2009 led to a short spike in coverage to 6.6% of news stories for the week of June 29 to July 5, but otherwise, the war will continue to fade from the headlines. During time of conflict, the media’s main job is to inform the public. America’s news companies have abrogated this role in Iraq.
Jurkowitz, Mark, “Why News of Iraq Dropped,” Pew Research Center’s Project For Excellence In Journalism, 3/26/08
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “Iraq – The Incredible Shrinking Story,” 7/9/09
Sartor, Tricia and Jurkowitz, Mark, “Iraq War Coverage Plunges,” Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, 3/25/08
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