In August 2005, the Associated Press was put on notice by readers and editors that the stream of negative AP reports from Iraq needed to be balanced with positives from Iraq. The AP responded by posting FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website explaining how the war is covered. Based on a review of Associated Press articles in October 2005, the FAQ’s should be renamed the “falsely answered questions”.
The AP claimed their stories focused on “political developments in Iraq, writing daily about both political success and stalled efforts”. Based on Internet searches, the AP published approximately 207 articles about the war in Iraq during October 2005. Out of the 207 articles, 127 began with negative titles. In addition, titles of 65 articles referred to deaths in Iraq.
What about the balance of negative and positive reports from Iraq? I reviewed 94 Associated Press articles from October 2005. Of the 94 articles reviewed, 58 were overall negative reports. Balanced articles (positive and negative reports) totaled 30. How many articles came across as strictly positive? SIX! Yes - 6 out of the 93 were positive reports from Iraq.
In the FAQ’s, the AP claimed that reconstruction efforts were frequently covered in the stories. Reconstruction in Iraq was mentioned less than 10 times in the 94 articles reviewed. Even when describing reconstruction efforts, the AP managed to throw in some “yes, but’s” in the mix – for example, electricity supply has risen steadily but well below the projected goal. Several times, the reconstruction reporting was buried in an article that was overtly negative such as the reconstruction of electricity plants covered in the article “AP Count Tallies Suicide Bombing Deaths”.
The Associated Press does a great disservice to Americans and US soldiers with the overwhelming negative reports from Iraq. Americans do not want a sugar-coated version of the war. We only want fair coverage – both negative and positive. Even the soldiers have asked for more balance in the media coverage of the war in Iraq. Based on the October 2005 coverage, balance from the AP is just a FAQ.
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