Do we have the ability to follow two wars at once?
The blog Baghdad Observer suggests not:
The once-huge international press corps here has shrunken significantly, with many verteran war correspondents decamped to Afghanistan. Major U.S. TV networks have pulled out, or are in the process of doing so. Other news organizations are hanging on until after the elections, which have been delayed from January to at least late February or March. (McClatchy, I am proud to say, plans to maintain a presence in Baghdad).
The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism tracks the attention news organizations give to stories. Its latest has Iraq nowhere in sight.
The last time Iraq was in the top five stories in a given week was at the end of June.
How about NPR? Do they still have a Baghdad office?
I don't think so. Corey Flintoff does a lot of the Mideast reporting but I think he's dispatched out of Washington.
I think at this point the Iraq War is a "local" story. A good example of this right here in the Twin Cities is the recent series of stories that Don Shelby and Tom Aviles did on the "Red Bulls" in southern Iraq.
I found it interesting that Shelby admitted to a change of opinion after visiting with the troops there. Paraphrasing from memory is always dangerous but here we go.
"While the reasons Guard troops are being used may be unfortunate, the experience they bring may be a better for solving the problems of nation building. We as Americans and Minnesotans will be safer in the long run because of what they are doing."
I wonder if after the areas are secured we should send in the "Peace Corps" instead of more troops?
The problem is the story of Iraq isn't necessarily the people from here who are IN Iraq and I don't think the news media really knows how to tell a story without that angle.
I stumbled across a great AP assessment the other day of infrastructure in Iraq. Up to now, I'd been led to believe that almost no progress has been made in improving the lives of Iraqis in terms of everyday needs.
_Prewar: 2.58 million barrels per day.
_Nov. 24, 2009: 2.34 million barrels per day.
_Prewar nationwide: 3,958 megawatts. Hours per day (estimated): 4-8.
_Nov. 4, 2009: Nationwide: 5,890 megawatts. Hours per day: N/A.
_Prewar Baghdad: 2,500 megawatts. Hours per day: 16-24.
_Nov. 4, 2009: Baghdad: N/A. Hours per day: N/A.
_Prewar land lines: 833,000.
_Oct. 4, 2009: 1,250,000.
_Prewar cell phones: 80,000.
_Oct. 4, 2009: an estimated 19.5 million.
_Prewar: 12.9 million people had potable water.
_Oct. 12, 2009: 21.2 million people have potable water.
_Prewar: 6.2 million people served.
_Oct. 12, 2009: 11.5 million people served.
_October 2009: at least 2.7 million total are currently displaced inside Iraq.
_Prewar: 500,000 Iraqis living abroad.
_October 2009: More than 2 million.
All figures are the most recent available.