Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iraq News Coverage Update I

The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) documented the sharp decline in the amount of reporting about Iraq. In January 2007 Iraq made up 24.9% of all stories in the American media. Network TV had the highest coverage with 32.9%, while the newspapers had the lowest at 19%. By March 2008 Iraq accounted for only 5.2% of all news stories. By then, newspapers had taken the lead in coverage with 7.7%, while cable TV had the least with only 1.5%. The major spike in coverage in September and October 2007 was due to General Petraeus’ and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony to Congress on the surge. The slight uptake from February to March 2008 coincides with the five-year anniversary of the war.

Since March, coverage has taken another major drop. For example, according to PEJ’s weekly news statistics in the six-week period from May 19 to June 23, Iraq failed to make the top 10 news stories two weeks. During that period, Iraq news only averaged 2.1% of stories, and only broke the top five during the week of May 26 to June 1 because Obama and McCain talked about it.

As discussed earlier, media coverage has dropped for a number of reasons. The major causes are the decline in the public debate in Washington about the war, the dominance of the presidential election and faltering economy in the news cycle, and the costs and dangers of keeping reporters in Iraq. Together these factors have pushed Iraq off of TV screens and the front pages of newspapers.


Project for Excellence in Journalism, “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, May 19-25, 2008: While Democrats Battle on, McCain Makes News,” 5/27/08
- “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, May 26-June 1, 2008: Iraq Roars Back as a Campaign Issue,” 6/2/08
- “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, June 2-8, 2008: Clinton Drives the Media Narrative the Week Obama Wins,” 6/9/08
- “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, June 9-15, 2008: Obama Makes More News Than McCain, But It’s Not All Good,” 6/16/08
- “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, June 16-22, 2008: The Spouse and the President Get Their Media Close-Up,” 6/23/08
- “PEJ Campaign Coverage Index, June 23-29, 2008: Democrats And Unity Drive The Campaign Narrative,” 6/30/08
- “Iraq War Coverage Plunges,” 3/25/08

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