Brian Stelter of the New York Times has noticed a disturbing trend in news reporting from Iraq:
Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.
The story documents the shift in priorities from Iraq to Afghanistan, as well as a general sense of fatigue amongst the national news networks. Reporters quoted in the article cite the disinclination by the networks to cover a war that they believe the audience has lost patience with:
Jane Arraf (CNN): The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it.
Mike Boettcher (NBC): Americans like their wars movie length and with a happy ending.
Those characterizations display an arrogant disrespect for the American people and for their tolerance of bad news, even as it impacts their own friends and families. But even if it were true, it is not the job of journalists to report the news that is most popular. Journalists have an obligation to make editorial decisions as to the relevance and significance of current events. They certainly should not be permitted to decide that the audience doesn’t care about war or home foreclosures or natural disasters, and instead reassign their staff to celebrity drunk drivers.
If news organizations ever hope to restore their lost credibility, they might start by showing their customers more respect and by delivering a product that serves their needs.