Voice Of America Silenced In Baghdad

The Baghdad bureau of the Voice of America closed six months ago when it’s last reporter left due to security concerns. Alisha Ryu asked to be transferred after an attack that killed a member of her security detail.

Iraq is the world’s most dangerous country for the media, with 69 fatalities since 2003. The closing of VOA is just the latest example how difficult it is to get reliable news out the country. The VOA could not say when there might be another reporter assigned to Baghdad but Ryu was quoted as saying that there were no volunteers.

Ryu has published stories detailing occurances of abuse and torture by Shiite militias in conjunction with Interior Ministry prison authorities. These reports may have targeted her for retribution.

While the VOA ostensibly operates independently, it is an arm of the U. S. government and is required by its charter to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively.” If they can’t keep the mood upbeat, I don’t see why any other news organization (other than Fox) can be expected to do so.

The Bush administration is fond of complaining that the media is ignoring all the positive stories in Iraq. It must be hard to ferret out all those postitive stories when you can’t even leave your hotel without getting kidnapped or shot at or killed. Jill Carroll, Bob Woodruff, and 69 disembodied souls can attest to that. If the environment is so dangerous that field reporters, an uncommonly sturdy bunch, can’t be recruited, it puts the lie to the administration’s lament that there is an abundance of good news that is just being missed.