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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Woodruff & Journalistic Navel Gazing

No one is surprised about the MSM's navel gazing over Woodruff's injuries, right?

I mean, to journalists the only "real people" are other journalists. It's one thing if some kid from red-state USA "gets it" in Chimpy W. McBushitler's war for oil... But God forbid if a journalist gets injured! It really "brings it home" in the eyes of a journalist.

Some US troops question Woodruff coverage

UPI Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The American media stood up and took notice when an improvised explosive device grievously injured an ABC News crew Sunday.

In Iraq, and throughout the military, there is sympathy and concern for anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt, but there is also this question:

"Why do you think this is such a huge story?" wrote an officer stationed in Baqubah, Iraq, Monday via e-mail. "It's a bit stunning to us over here how absolutely dominant the story is on every network and front page. I mean, you'd think we lost the entire 1st Marine Division or something.

"There's a lot of grumbling from guys at all ranks about it. That's a really impolite and impolitic thing to say ... but it's what you would hear over here."
Modern American celebrity culture has certainly magnified the latest incident: Woodruff is recognizable, relatable, respectable. He was selected for his job as co-anchor not just for his undoubted journalistic credentials but also because ABC decided he was the kind of person Americans would want to welcome into their homes every night. His injury, therefore, feels personal to many viewers.

"He's the kind of celebrity we feel we know. That's the mature of these anchors. But we feel we know these people and we care what happens to them," Montgomery said.

That leaves the uncomfortable question about how much the media, or the American public, cares about the injured who are less well known, but in just as dire straits.

ABC News' national broadcast Monday ran coverage on the extremely well equipped field and manned hospital at Balad Air Base, a transportable emergency room with not one but two neurosurgeons on duty, better than most emergency rooms in the United States.

It was a story ABC News became aware of because that was where Woodruff and Vogt were treated. It was not a story ABC necessarily had reason to do before; there was no news hook. However, this was where hundreds of wounded soldiers and Marines had previously been stabilized before being moved to Landstuhl Air Base.

"As we are hearing the details of Bob Woodruff's medical care and how he was shipped to Germany, and we go inside the operating room, (we realize) it's a part of the war that the press has basically ignored," said Montgomery.

In the midst of a two-month reporting trip in Iraq in 2005, I stopped at the Balad emergency hospital, toured it for an hour and interviewed a dozen doctors and nurses. I couldn't find a news hook to write about it, so I didn't.

By the way, my brother-in-law served in the Balad hospital mentioned in the article, which the author visited but felt there was no "hook" to make it worthy of a news article.... I wonder if she would've found a hook if the facility had terrible conditions? No, since the facility was well-staffed and well-equipped, there was no hook.

Pamela - the "hook" for the story was that the facilities being provided to our troops are better than facilities back in the US. Heck, you could've even taken an anti-Bush slant in your "reporting," talking about how we needed more facilities like the government-run one in Balad throughout the US.

Media bias isn't just the slant that is used in certain stories, but also what never gets reported.

*** Update ***
Austin Bay has commented on this story

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler