Friday, September 12, 2008

Monthly Media Coverage of Iraq From July 28-August 31, 2008

The American media continues to cover the Iraq war less and less. For the four weeks between July 28 and August 31, 2008, the war only broke the top ten news stories in the U.S. according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism two times. For the week of July 28-August 3 it was the number 5 story, with 4% of all coverage. That week John McCain attacked Barak Obama over his stance on the war, there were deadly suicide bombings in Baghdad and Kirkuk, and a record low number of U.S. military deaths. Besides the candidates for President of the United States talking about the war, the other major reason why Iraq tended to appear in stories was the on-going security negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq over a security agreement. In the week of August 18-24 for example, McCain attacked Obama’s war proposals in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but there were also stories about a withdrawal timetable for U.S. forces in the security talks. That week Iraq was the number 6 story in the nation with 3% of all stories. The following week from August 25-31, Iraq was the number 4 story, but with only 2% of the stories as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded a deadline for U.S. combat troops to leave his country. There was also a domestic story that week also, as a former U.S. Marine was acquitted by a jury of killing Iraqi prisoners. The major story in America however, continues to be the race for the presidency between Obama and McCain, which tends to push all the other stories to the sidelines, especially on television. During the week of the Republican National Convention for example, the campaign accounted for 69% of all news coverage. The only time Obama and McCain did not dominate the media was the week of August 11-17 when Russia went to war with Georgia.

Since June 2008, Iraq has reached the top 10 media stories on average about every other week. From July 7 to August 3 Iraq only broke the top 10 stories one week out of four. When it did break in, it was only the number 10 story. From June 2 to July 6 it broke the top 10 stories three weeks out of five. Newspapers tend to have the most coverage, but no longer on the front page for the most part, while television the least. Press reports on the war declined sharply when public debate over the war ended in Congress in 2007. Since then the presidential race has dominated the news stream pushing most other stories to the sidelines, including the war.

SOURCES

Project for Excellence in Journalism, “Denver And Palin Fuel Biggest Campaign Week Yet, PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: August 25-31, 2008,” 9/2/08
- “Extra! Extra! McCain Makes As Much News As Obama, Campaign Coverage Index: July 28-August 3, 2008,” 8/4/08
- “It’s All Veepstakes All The Time, PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: August 18-24, 2008,” 8/25/08
- “Once Again, It’s Obama Versus Clinton, PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: August 4-10, 2008,” 8/11/08
-, “War In Georgia Is Bigger News Than The Campaign, PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: August 11-17, 2008,” 8/18/08

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