Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

Web Page

U.S. Foreign Policy Blog

E-Mail: dormanw at

<< current


War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Saturday, March 29, 2003  
Why Reporters Stay in Baghdad
Cox's Craig Nelson Calls in From Iraqi Capital

By Joe Strupp

MARCH 28, 2003 For rest of story, see Editor & Publisher

NEW YORK -- While the number of journalists covering the bombing of Baghdad continues to dwindle, with editors calling some home and Iraqi officials expelling others, correspondents remaining in the war-torn city fear the worst may be yet to come. Among those is Craig Nelson of Atlanta-based Cox Newspapers, who has spent nearly four weeks in Iraq's capital, but has no plans to leave anytime soon.

8:45 AM

15 Stories the Embedded Journos Got Wrong

For the complete story, see

Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell reports that "the war is only a week old and already the media has gotten at least 15 stories wrong or misreported a sliver of fact into a major event."

Hey, wait a minute. Weren't all of those embedded journalists suppose to give us the "real" story of the war – without censorship and spin?

Here's Mitchell's list of stories the major media, well, simply got wrong:

8:36 AM

For Broadcast Media, Patriotism Pays
Consultants Tell Radio, TV Clients That Protest Coverage Drives Off Viewers

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 28, 2003
For complete story, see Washington

Now, apparently, is the time for all good radio and TV stations to come to the aid of their country's war.

That is the message pushed by broadcast news consultants, who've been advising news and talk stations across the nation to wave the flag and downplay protest against the war.

"Get the following production pieces in the studio NOW: . . . Patriotic music that makes you cry, salute, get cold chills! Go for the emotion," advised McVay Media, a Cleveland-based consultant, in a "War Manual" memo to its station clients. ". . . Air the National Anthem at a specified time each day as long as the USA is at war."

8:25 AM

Friday, March 28, 2003  
The News Veteran
'Nightline' Anchor Ted Koppel Had to See for Himself The Shape of a Conflict Drawn in Sand

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 28, 2003
For the complete story, see Washington Post

Perhaps the toughest moment for Ted Koppel in Iraq -- beyond the sandstorms and the 14-hour drives and the nights with no sleep -- was when he wound up in a ditch.

6:02 PM

A New Wave Of `Scud Studs' Covers Drama Of Battle

By Charles Goldsmith and Sally Beatty

THE IRAQI WAR is just a week old, but a new generation of television "Scud studs" and their female counterparts is already emerging. For a "who's who" in Iraq War television coverage, see Yahoo News

5:53 PM

'Friends' more popular than enemies
Friday, March 21, 2003

ABC's live war coverage ran second to NBC's entertainment programming, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- U.S. television networks, facing a bill of up to $20 million each per day to cover the Iraq war, found that "Friends" are more popular than enemies as a repeat episode of the top sitcom on Thursday night beat live war cover on ABC in the ratings. For the complete story, see CNN.Com

5:33 PM

Fox News Keeps Wartime Coverage Lead
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
For complete story, see Lycos TV News

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fox News Channel has outdrawn CNN in the ratings through the first five days of the war, a further proof of Fox's audience appeal and a blow to CNN, which was hoping to revitalize the reputation it built during the first Gulf War. Through Monday, Fox News Channel has averaged 4 million viewers each day to CNN's 3.57 million. Fox's audience was bigger when the war began March 19, and every day through Monday, according to Nielsen Media Research.

5:25 PM

Thursday, March 27, 2003  
Great Expectations

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2003; 8:46 AM
Washington Post

Why did so many people think this would be a cakewalk?

You'd have to say the media played a key role.

The pre-war buildup was so overwhelming that it seemed like the war should be called off as a horrible mismatch.

There were hundreds of stories about America's superior weaponry, the Bradleys and Apaches and Mother of All Bombs, the superbly trained forces. There were so many "shock and awe" stories that Americans could be forgiven for thinking they were in for another video-game conflict. There were stories about how Iraqi units would quickly surrender, how Iraqi citizens would hail the advancing Americans and British as liberators.

9:02 PM

'It's more than exciting, Christiane'

Most TV correspondents reporting from Iraq are attached to combat units and adopt the military viewpoint, so who is giving us the other side of the war?

By Orna Coussin
From Haaretz

One of Israeli's most influential daily newspapers provides compelling insight into American TV journalism in the "belly of a dragon," which is to say the U.S. war machine in Iraq.

5:15 PM

Conflict of interest: the sites you need to see

Jane Perrone on the best of the warblogs

Thursday March 27, 2003
The Guardian,2763,922495,00.html

This is a momentous moment. For the first time, war has outstripped sex as the most frequent web search term according to internet service Freeserve.

This thirst for information has been matched by increased traffic on news sites. Yahoo! said traffic levels were three times higher in the hour after George Bush told Americans that war had started, while hits at Guardian Unlimited and BBC News Online have increased by at least 30%.

The second Gulf war has also seen the acceptance of the weblog by the mainstream media. Many sites have embraced them. Dispatches from the front line have been presented weblog-style by correspondents "embedded" with troops - travelling under the auspices of the Pentagon or the Ministry of Defence. The BBC's reporters are contributing to a warblog, Nate Thayer is filing from Baghdad for Slate while journalist ML Lyke and photographer Grant M Haller are writing weblogs for the Seattle Post Intelligencer from on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

8:50 AM

Keeping Up Isn't Hard To Do

For a superb weekly summary of international events, flash points and U.S. foreign policy stories, subscribe for free to The Global Beat: Resources for the Global Journalist, which is published weekly by New York University's Center for War, Peace an the News Media. To subscribe, unsubscribe or send a comment, email

8:14 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2003  
This Real-Time War Is Getting All Too Real
James P. Pinkerton
March 25, 2003§ion=%2Fnews%2Fopinion

So which war are you watching? The top American general, Tommy Franks, describes one war: At a press conference yesterday, he declared that American - oops, Coalition - progress has been "rapid" and "dramatic." But Iraqi second-in-command Tariq Aziz describes another: Saddam Hussein, he says, is "in good shape" and "in full control of the army and the country."
The Vietnam War was often called "the living room war," because television brought the fighting right into the home. But four decades ago, footage from Vietnam was airlifted across the Pacific, so there was a delay of a day or two before it could be aired on broadcast TV. Today, everything's different - live and large. And yet for all the immediacy, there's much more choice; hundreds of outlets, around the world, offer different visions of the truth, from different perspectives, via different communications technologies.

9:26 PM

The Move On organization, which recently has made extraordinary strides in using the internet to organize against the Iraq War, has come up with a new twist: the MoveOn Media Corps, which you might consider joining. The link is

According to MoveOn, American media outlets have chosen to stifle or simply not show the most terrible and saddening aspects of this war. They are reluctant to air the voices of critics who are raising important questions about its effectiveness and purpose. And they appear to have acceded to the Bush Administration's desire to black out pictures or footage of civilian casualties.

We need to demand the full picture. The MoveOn Media Corps is a group of committed MoveOn volunteers who will mobilize to push the media to fairly cover this war. The action ideas we send you won't generally take longer than 15 minutes, but to be part of the Corps we ask that you commit to taking up to one action per day. The actions could include calling media outlets when they air especially bad coverage, pushing Clear Channel radio to stop censoring anti-war songs, or writing letters to the editor.

6:15 PM


For a probing critique and commentary on our media culture, especially now that a war is on, check out the Take On The News Section of (see sample of articles below)

5:13 PM

Off Target
Safire's Flimsy 'French Connection'

Barry Lando is a former CBS producer of 60 Minutes, and has also contributed to CBS News, Time magazine and Time-Life.

"France, China and Syria all have a common reason for keeping American and British troops out of Iraq: the three nations may not want the world to discover that their nationals have been illicitly supplying Saddam Hussein with materials used in building long-range surface-to surface missiles."

That was the lead of William Safire's recent two part series "The French Connection" in The New York Times, reprinted in the International Herald Tribune. With the Times' august imprimatur, Safire's charges have been relayed around the globe, in newspapers, magazines and Web sites, fueling the rising storm of outrage against the French.

5:08 PM

European TV Shows Different War
Unlike CNN And The BBC, Euronews Shows Raw Video From The Front

Nina Burleigh See

Here in Paris there are many ways we can take our war.

We can walk outside in the unusually spring-like weather and join a peace march -- there's usually one somewhere around. We can ignore it and sip coffee at a sidewalk cafe. Or we can sit in the apartment and zap-zap-zap between international CNN, BBC and Euronews, the French-based network broadcast across Europe in English, French, Russian, Italian and Spanish. All three of these big networks have taken advantage of Pentagon "embedded" reporters to reap streams of video.

5:05 PM

The media at war: live and misleading
By Robert Jensen

JUST as the Pentagon has developed sophisticated munitions for the battlefield abroad, it has perfected propaganda to secure public opinion at home.

San Jose Mercury,

10:01 AM

Journalism Becomes Part of Story

How journalism is performing in the Iraq War is now becoming part of the running story in much the same way as it did during the 1991 Gulf War. A typical overview can be found in a March 26 L.A. times piece, "WAR WITH IRAQ / COVERING THE CONFLICT
Media and Government Make Uneasy Bedfellows." See,0,4154741.story

8:42 AM

An Alternative to Mainstream Media

You can sign up for e-mail delivery at is researched, written and edited by Tom Engelhardt, a fellow at the Nation Institute, for anyone in despair over post-September 11th US mainstream media coverage of our world and ourselves. The service is intended to introduce you to voices from elsewhere (even when the elsewhere is here) who might offer a clearer sense of how this imperial globe of ours actually works.

An editor in publishing for the last 25 years, Tom is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War era. He is at present consulting editor for Metropolitan Books, a fellow of the Nation Institute, and a teaching fellow at the journalism school of the University of California, Berkeley.

8:34 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  
'Embeds' Offer Graphic but Limited War Close-Up

"Despite access to the frontline, embedded reporters are also seeing the war entirely through the eyes of the U.S. and British forces. The Iraqi army does not have anything that resembles embeds on its side.

"It appears that the fog of war has been blown away but it hasn't," said Jamie Cowling, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research in London."

4:17 PM

The Memory Hole is a site that reminds us of stories that the media forget or cover up.

3:54 PM

The Bush administration clearly understands that the American people are more "defeat phobic than casualty phobic," said Peter D. Feaver, associate professor of political science at Duke University.

3:44 PM

Testing. . .

3:25 PM

This page is powered by Blogger.