Thursday, March 15, 2007

Good news on Iraq war

Readers periodically accuse us of not printing any "good" news about the war in Iraq. I don't agree with that assertion -- we have carried wire news stories about advances made in that country, such as the rebuilding of schools and other infrastructure by U.S. forces.

Today we tell of more positive developments related to the war.Our front page has a news summary and chart based on a new report from Iraq. They show that since a new security effort began in Baghdad several weeks ago, the number of sectarian killings has dropped. A story on Page A3 details that further.Next, our front-page centerpiece shows how one Atascadero woman has rallied her fellow employees to adopt a platoon serving in Iraq. Her action was inspired by the death of a U.S. Army sergeant who had roots in San Luis Obispo. When we reported the news of his death several weeks back, she was touched and wanted to do something positive to commemorate his service. We also tell readers how to make donation's to this woman's effort.

To be sure, much of the war news focuses on bombings and other tragic events. But that is not the only information about the war that we print.I welcome your comments.

-Tad Weber


David said...

I often wonder why you bother to defend yourself against such tired, cliche accusations. It seems to me you already bend over backwards to appease the pro-war folks and ignore or skim over a lot of the pro-peace activities in your coverage area.

By the way, you forgot to mention your upbeat story and nice photos of amputee Iraqi war veterans getting the opportunity to learn to surf at Pismo Beach. (Too bad the water was so polluted that day it was deemed by county health officials to be "unhealthy" to enter at the time, a fact generously left out of your paper's story. And no follow up as to whether any of the vets fell sick from their adventure. Why mess up a "good news" war story with a "bad news" fact?)

Deciding what is "good news" and what is "bad news" is subjective and often a matter of one's individual politics.

I've personally heard, in just the last week or so, U.S. Army vets return from Iraq and say that the mainstream media doesn't accurately portray the scope of how bad things are going with the war and that American citizens are presented a too rosey view of the situation by the U.S. news media. But, again, these are subjective opinions to some extent.

When was the last time you printed basic, vital facts about the war, such as its toll in lives and dollars?

You might start with these Iraq war facts, tallied as of earlier this month: American soldiers killed in action: 3,170; wounded in action (many severely): 23,785. Iraqi civilians killed (est.): 63,248.

Or how about his one: U.S. tax dollars spent so far: $371 Billion. (Good news for Halliburton and Dick Cheney!)

The Iraqi civilian death toll comes from and is considered by most experts to be a conservative estimate. Some say the total number of Iraqi's killed is likely many times larger. Is that "good news" or "bad news"?

I know of at least one newspaper that prints the latest tallies each week. The Tribune might consider doing so as well. Or would you be concerned that such stark facts presented without a "happy face" spin would draw the same type of knee-jerk criticism that you seem so overly concerned about?

Good luck trying to please all the people all the time and helping your readers feel warm and fuzzy about a horrific war where innocent men, women and children are slaughtered each day, and U.S. prosthetic manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the demand for artificial limbs to supply returning U.S. troops.

Here's a story idea sure to please those cantankerous critics: Report on how many home made chocolate chip cookies SLO county citizens mail to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan each month. Sweet!

Have a nice day!

David Ciaffardini

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your efforts to show another perspective on the Global War on Terror. It is true that the bad news of war is the usual headline. But as you point out, there is much to report that is good and hopeful. Our troops are doing an amazing job, and many call their co-workers in Iraq and Afghanistan, brothers. I currently have friends in Iraq, and they all say the same thing. The peace movement in America is actually hindering the very thing they say they are trying to promote. Our troops are the ones fighting for peace, and all the while trying to assure the brave people in Iraq and Afghanistan that America will not run out and abandon them when they need us the most. I truly believe that if American’s were united in support of our troops, peace would sooner follow.

As another note, I read the comment from David Ciffardini. I was one of the lucky ones to volunteer on the surf trip to Pismo Beach. The honor that was shown these troops in the Tribune article was both appreciated and deserved. These guys (and Stephanie!) are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. The AP and National Geographic journalists that were also there had the same experience.

And, to let anyone know who might care, none of the troops, or volunteers that were in the water with them, got sick. Most were in fact energized by the whole experience.

Best regards,
Los Osos

David said...

So, Donna Who-Won't-Share-Her-Last-Name, what exactly is all this Iraq war "good news" you are talking about? More Americans are dying and more Iraqi civilians are dying. That trend is getting worse, not better.

There are new reports suggesting that more than half a million Iraqis have been killed in this war. Is THAT what you consider GOOD news? American troops have had no success in bringing peace to the region. You and others can continue being cheerleaders for this immoral war, but all that will do is lead to more people killed. You use the word peace, but you, perhaps naively, are cheerleading for death.

I was also at Pismo to share in the good experience of the amputee veterans getting a chance to surf. But, do you forget that because of this immoral, ill-advised war that you see so much "good" in, thousands of U.S. troops will be dead or too injured to ever enjoy the ocean? Rah, Rah, Rah. Good job, Donna!

David Ciaffardini