Readers' Representative Journal

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"Whatever Happened to Iraq?"

May 29, 2008 |  4:28 pm

"The decline in coverage of Iraq has been staggering," reports AJR in a preview of its June/July issue, now online. Times Foreign Editor Marjorie Miller is among editors interviewed. She names three factors contributing to the declining reporting from Iraq: The great interest in the economic downturn and the contentious presidential primaries; "war fatigue" over reports of violence that seem sadly similar week after week; and the high cost of keeping correspondents in Baghdad.

(Also a part of the AJR story is a column on the same subject that was linked earlier on this journal: the Sacramento Bee public editor's March 30 column bemoaning the waning interest in the war on the part of both the public and the media. Armando Acuna updated that column with one two weeks later that noted that in the wake of breaking news there, Iraq was once again -- temporarily -- in the news.)

Updated: In a follow-up e-mail to the readers' rep office, Foreign Editor Miller noted that The Times continues to maintain a strong bureau in Iraq. Times staffers there include two to three reporters on the ground at a given time, plus a large Iraqi staff of reporters and translators. Coverage of the ongoing war is routinely placed on the front page or on the World page inside on Page A3; staffers also blog from Iraq daily on Babylon & Beyond. Now more than ever, as correspondent Alexandra Zavis said in a e-mail that was part of the AJR story, it "is the responsibility of journalists to put a name and a face on the mind-numbing statistics, to take readers into the lives of ordinary Iraqis, and to find ways to convey what this unimaginable bloodshed means to the people who live it."