Friday, May 6, 2011

How The Media Forgot About Iraq’s Protest Movement (REVISED)

Protest in Mosul, Ninewa, February 2011 (Agence France Presse)
 Iraq, like the rest of the Middle East and North Africa, has recently been swept by a number of anti-government demonstrations. Although its been called the Arab Spring, it actually started in December 2010 in Tunisia. Iraq held its first protest on January 30, 2011. The American and British press at first covered these events. This was especially true for the media organizations that had bureaus or journalists in the country such as the New York Times, CNN, and BBC. In February, there were a number of stories about the protests, but those quickly ended as the news forgot about the country. Today, there is hardly anything about the demonstrations that continue in Iraq.

A survey of the major newspapers in the United States showed that they had the most stories about Iraq. The New York Times had a total of 20 from February to April. In February there were sixteen pieces that at least mentioned the protests in Iraq. The first was “Maliki to cut His Salary in Half” on February 5. The story wasn’t about the demonstrations themselves, but rather Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stating that he wouldn’t run again because of the anger in the Iraqi streets. In March, the Times fell to just one story on Iraq. That went up to three in April, but one was on Shiites supporting the people of Bahrain. The Washington Post had a total of nine stories from February to April. Like the New York Times, its initial piece was about Maliki saying he wouldn’t seek a third term. In March there were two reports, and then only one in April.  On its “Middle East and North Africa in Turmoil: Special Coverage”  page on its website there is a link to one of its stories about Iraq, “In Iraq protests, a younger generation finds its voice” from March 21. Iraq is also included in the Post’s “Middle East and North Africa in turmoil” interactive map. The Christian Science Monitor ran four stories about the demonstrations. They had three in February, one in March, and none in April. The Los Angeles Times had one report in March, and McClatchy ran one piece in conjunction with the Christian Science Monitor in April that was about Sadr's marches against the U.S. presence. The New York Times had the most coverage out of the five papers because it is one of the few international media organizations that maintained a bureau in Baghdad. Most other sources withdrew their reporters and closed their offices starting in 2008 as the sectarian war ended, and other parts of the world gained notoriety.

A quick survey of other outlets such as Time magazine, National Public Radio (NPR), CNN, and Fox News showed a little less coverage. Time only had one story on Iraq from January to April, “The Missing Ingredient in Iraq’s Day of Rage.” Its “The Middle East in Revolt” webpage does not include Iraq. NPR on the other hand, had seven stories, four in February, two in March, and one in April. One of those was about Moqtada al-Sadr’s anti-American march in April. CNN had five pieces in February, and then two each in March and April. Fox by comparison didn’t run a single story on the protests in the country. Again, CNN and NPR benefited from reporters on the ground in Iraq, while Time and Fox did not.

The British media didn’t seem to do much better than their American counterparts. The BBC’s Jim Muir was posted to Baghdad and filed four reports in February, none in March, and two in April. Two of those were aired on television. That being said, the BBC’s “Middle East protests: Country by country” webpage does not cover Iraq. The Telegraph had one story, “15 killed on Iraq ‘Day or Rage,” on February 25. The Financial Times also had one piece, which was about the regional unrest in general, which mentioned Iraq. Its “Protests shake Arab autocracies” webpage doesn’t mention Iraq. The Independent had zero pieces, while the Guardian had two in February, and one in March. The English press showed the same marginal interest in the demonstrations in Iraq as the U.S. outlets did.

The unrest in the Middle East has led to an explosion of reporting about the region. In the United States from January 31 to February 6 for example, 56% of all the stories for that week were on the protests. That was the largest international story in the last four years, surpassing even the Iraq War. By the end of April, the Middle East had dropped down to 12% of all stories in America, but it was still number one in the news. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Iraq did not break the top ten during any of those weeks. By looking at some of the major media outlets in the country, the Pew’s findings are not surprising. In February, most organizations posted at least one story on Iraq. By April however, it had largely disappeared from the headlines as the press focused upon other countries despite the fact that protests were still going on in Iraq.

The protests and fighting in the Middle East and North Africa continue to this day. There are still stories about Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and other countries. That’s no longer true of Iraq. It got a little coverage in the beginning of the year, but no more. The media, even for those few organizations that maintain bureaus in Baghdad, has forgotten Iraq’s demonstrations. It used to be the number one news story in both the United States and England. Now it usually only gets mentioned when terrorists blow something up. That gives a very distorted view of the country, and ignores how it is going through the same youth-led transformations as other nations in the region. Unfortunately, what becomes of it will largely be unknown for those outside of the Middle East, except for those that actively search for news on Iraq because the western media has lost interest.


Adnan, Duraid, “Caught in the Heat of Baghdad’s Protests,” New York Times, 2/27/11

Arango, Tim, “In Iraq, Bottoms Up for Democracy,” New York Times, 4/17/11
- “Rise of Iraq Youths Stunted by Political Elite,” New York Times, 4/14/11
- “Shiites in Iraq Support Bahrain’s Protesters,” New York Times, 4/2/11

Arraf, Jane, “Iraq attempts to defuse huge protest planned for Friday,” Christian Science Monitor, 2/23/11
- “Iraqis stage ‘day or regret’ one year after celebrated elections,” Christian Science Monitor, 3/7/11
- "Sadr threatens return to war if U.S. troops stay in Iraq," Christian Science Monitor/McClatchy Newspapers, 4/9/11

BBC, “At least five killed as Iraqis hold ‘day or rage,’” 2/25/11
- “Iraq PM Nouri Maliki ‘will not seek third term,’” 2/5/11
- “Middle East protests: Country by country”
- “Two killed during protest in Iraqi Kurdistan,” 2/17/11

Blakely, Jonathan, “Iraqi’s Anti-Government Rally Cramped By Curfew,” NPR, 3/4/11

Chappell, Bill, “Iraqis Join ‘Day Or Rage’ Anti-Government Protests,” NPR, 2/25/11

Financial Times “Middle East protests: regional wrap,” 2/17/11
- “Protests shake Arab autocracies”

Fordham, Alice and Salman, Raheem, "New Iraq protests smaller, less violent amid tight security," Los Angeles Times, 3/5/11

Head, Jonathan, “Protesters killed in Iraqi ‘day of rage,’” 2/25/11

Healy, Jack and Abdulla, Namo, “Iraqi Kurdistan, Known as Haven, Faces Unrest,” New York Times, 2/24/11

Healy, Jack, Adnan, Duraid, “Iraqi Protesters Seek Not a New Regime, but Jobs,” New York Times, 2/15/11

Healy, Jack and Schmidt, Michael, “Ahead of ‘Day of Rage,’ Iraqis Have Mixed Demands,” New York Times 2/22/11
- “Protests Across Iraq Turn Violent,” New York Times, 2/26/11

Healy, Jack and Schmidt, Michael, Ali, Khalid and Jawoshy, Omar, “Iraq Offers to Bring Its Refugees Home From Egypt and Yemen,” New York Times, 2/11/11

MacFarquhar, Neil, “Unrest Spreads, Some Violently, in Middle East,” New York Times, 2/17/11

Mackey, Robert, “Feb. 18 Updates on Middle East Protests,” New York Times, 2/18/11
- “Latest Updates on Libya’s Revolt and Mideast Protests,” New York Times, 2/25/11

McCrummen, Stephanie, “13 killed in Iraq’s ‘Day or Rage’ protests,” Washington Post, 2/25/11
- “After Iraq’s Day of Rage, a Crackdown on Intellectuals,” Washington Post, 2/27/11
- “In Iraq protests, a younger generation finds its voice,” Washington Post, 3/21/11
- “Iraqi PM Maliki pledges reform after ‘Day or Rage,’” Washington Post, 2/27/11
- “Protesters say Maliki is using special security forces to shut down demonstrations in Iraq,” Washington Post, 3/3/11

McDermid, Chalres and Lami, Karim, “The Missing Ingredient in Iraq’s Day of Rage,” Time, 2/25/11

McEvers, Kelly, “’Day Of Rage’ Protests Continue In Iraq,” NPR, 2/28/11
- “Iraq Protests Urge U.S. Out Sooner,” NPR, 4/10/11
- “Iraqi Protesters Call For Better Jobs, Benefits,” NPR, 2/11/11

Muir, Jim, “Arab unrest: Iraq’s struggle a warning for protesters,” BBC, 4/25/11
- “Demonstrations have been erupting in Iraq despite eight years of democracy,” BBC, 4/25/11

NPR, “Fire From Egypt, Tunisia Flares Across Arab World,” 2/16/11

Otterman, Sharon and Goodman, J. David, “Hundreds of Thousands Protest Across Mideast,” New York Times, 2/26/11

Peterson, Scott, “Iraq swirls with rumors of Egypt-like protests to come,” Christian Science Monitor, 2/6/11
- “Iraqis stage Valentine’s Day protest over government corruption, poor services,” Christian Science Monitor, 2/14/11

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “PEJ News Coverage Index, April 4-10, 2011: The Shutdown Drama Drives the News,” 4/10/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, April 11-17, 2011: Media Look to Obama in Deficit Debate,” 4/16/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, April 18-24, 2011: Trump Pushes the 2012 Race into the News,” 4/24/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, April 25 – May 1, 2011: Tornadoes Lead News in Days Before Bin Laden Death, 4/30/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, February 14-20, 2011: From Madison to Manama, a Week Filled with Protests,” 2/18/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, February 21-27, 2011: Libya on the Brink Leads the News, 2/26/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, February 28 – March 6, 2011: A Shifting Libya Narrative is No. 1,” 3/6/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, January 31 – February 6, 2011: Events in Egypt Trigger Record Coverage,” 2/5/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, March 7-13, 2011: A Furious Week Ends in Disaster,” 3/12/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, March 14-20, 2011: The Media Careen from Radiation in Japan to War in Libya,” 3/19/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, March 21-27, 2011: Libya Dominates the News as U.S. Enters the War,” 3/26/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, March 28 – April 3, 2011: Libya Drives the News as Concerns Grow,” 4/3/11
- “PEJ News Coverage Index, The Fall of Mubarak And The Media,” 2/12/11

Ramadani, Sami, “Iraqis get the Tahrir spirit,” Guardian, 3/2/11

Schmidt, Michael and Adnan, Duraid, “Police Fire on Protesters in Iraq,” New York times, 2/17/11
- “Protests Spread to More Iraqi Cities,” New York Times, 2/18/11

Schmidt, Michael and Ali, Khalid, “Maliki to Cut His Salary in Half,” New York Times, 2/5/11

Schmidt, Michael and Ghazi, Yasir, “Iraq’s Top Shiite Leaders Urge Delay of Protests,” New York Times, 2/24/11

Schmidt, Michael and Healy, Jack, “Prime Minister Urges Iraqis to Call Off Protests,” New York Times, 2/25/11
- “Protest Organizers Ordered to Shut Offices in Iraq,” New York Times, 3/8/11

Schmidt, Michael, Thaker, Zaid, and Adnan, Duraid, “Iraq Prime Minister Says He Won’t Seek Re-Election,” New York Times, 2/6/11

Sherwood, Harriet, Finn, Tom, “Thousands join ‘day of rage’ across the Middle East,” Guardian, 2/25/11

Shuster, Mike, “Iraqi Prime Minister Softens Tone On Protesters,” NPR, 3/11/11

Sly, Liz, “Iraq’s Maliki says he won’t seek 3rd term, in possible reverberations from Egypt,”
Washington Post, 2/5/11

Sly, Liz and Qeis, Ali, “Two Iraqi protesters killed amid unrest in normally peaceful Kurdistan,” Washington Post, 2/18/11
- “Violence erupts during anti-government protests in southern Iraq, city,” Washington Post, 2/17/11

Steele, Jonathan, “Iraq’s own Arab spring,” Guardian, 2/25/11

Tawfeeq, Mohammed, “Amid Egypt-inspired unrest, Iraqi prime minister cuts salary in half,” CNN, 2/5/11
- “Angry crowds in Baghdad, Falluja protest conditions in Iraq,” CNN, 4/8/11
- “Clashes leave 2 dead, dozens wounded across northern Iraq,” CNN, 4/26/11
- “Iraqi protesters rally in the rain,” CNN, 3/25/11
- “Kurdish unrest continues in Iraq,” CNN, 3/6/11
- “More deaths and clashes follow Iraq demonstrations,” CNN, 2/26/11
- “Protestors in Iraq decry lack of basic services, shortages,” CNN, 2/3/11
- “Ten killed in protests across Iraq,” CNN, 2/26/11

Telegraph, “15 killed on Iraq ‘Day of Rage,’” 2/25/11

Time Magazine, “The Middle East in Revolt” webpage

Washington Post, “Middle East and North Africa in turmoil” interactive map
- “Middle East and North Africa in Turmoil: Special Coverage”

1 comment:

free blogger said...

yes i know how media controlled by capital. justice just for who have money.