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Monday, December 11, 2006

Reporting Rumor Compared to Reporting News

I have often said there is a big difference in reporting when a reporter is IN Iraq and leaves the "green zone" to get their news compared to simply reporting rumor from stringers that might or might not be true. AP is a very good example of the latter, they rely on stringers to get their "supposed" news, while the actual reporters are getting down and dirty to dig out truth from fiction.

Michael Fumento has a piece regarding this very issue called " The Real Ramadi has Stood Up."

In a Nov. 29 blog, "Will the real Ramadi please stand up?" I observed that three articles on conditions in Ramadi and al Anbar Province had appeared within a week of each other giving entirely different points of view. Mine and one in the Times of London said we're winning the war in Ramadi; a Washington Post A1 story co-authored by "Fiasco" author Thomas Ricks claimed exactly the opposite. The difference, I said, could be explained simply. I and the Times writer reported from Ramadi. Ricks and his co-author have not only never been to Ramadi, they wrote their piece from Washington. Well now the WashPost has printed another article on the city, this time an upbeat one. What gives? You guessed it.The second one was reported from Ramadi. Case closed, thank you very much. Unfortunately, it's little solace knowing how few journalists ever leave their safe little hovels in Baghdad hotels or Washington, D.C.

That basically says it all, the story becomes very different when it is not rumor or bias being reported, but the actual "news" according to the conditions on the ground.

So, why do these reporters not acknowledge that there is no way to get the news and know that it is accurate if they are not physically there doing the legwork?

From Fumento's November 29th article:

"The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq [Al Anbar Province] or counter al Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report," began a front-page article in yesterday's Washington Post by Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks. It concerned the so-called "Devlin Report," a five-page document allegedly filled with gloom and doom. It contrasts completely with my article Return to Ramadi, in the Nov. 27 Weekly Standard, in which I write that the largest city in the province is slowly being reclaimed from al Qaeda. By coincidence, the day my article hit the stands the Times of London published an extensive article coming to the same conclusion as mine. But for the timing, you'd practically think one of us had plagiarized the other.

Why such different conclusions between our articles and the Post's and whom to believe?

It helps to know that the Times writer and I both went to and reported from Ramadi. We didn't summarize classified documents or quote unnamed sources. Linzer and Ricks stayed home and reported from Washington, relying entirely on an unpublished document in addition to quoting a "senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity." I have recently ripped the media's "Baghdad Brigade" for pretending it can cover a country the size of California from a single Iraqi city. What does that say about those who think they can cover Al Anbar from Washington?

BizzyBlog has an interesting point to make also, regarding Wapo's most recent article, written by an AP reporter that actually left their little safe haven to get the news and all of a sudden the news is different, the news is better....does this mean the AP is finally learning the lesson that to get the true news, one has to actually do some work and investigate instead of relying on stringers who could or could not be simply spreading propaganda or is this an abberation on the AP's part and will they go back to their old ways of reporting rumor instead of news.

I guess we shall thing is definite though... no longer will we swallow everything that is reported without verifying it. Thanks to AP for teaching us that lesson.

Others discussing this:
Jules Crittenden.
IN DC Journal.
Flopping Aces.

Tracked back by:
Could It Be, AP? from BizzyBlog...