Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Journalism: How to Find Hard Evidence

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Journalism: How to Find Hard Evidence

Article excerpt

On 9 April, two years to the day after Baghdad fell to US tanks, the Press Association reported "the largest anti-American demonstration since the US-led invasion". The report continued: "Tens of thousands spilled into the streets, waving Iraqi flags and climbing on to an abstract sculpture said to represent freedom and built on the spot where Saddam's statue once stood."

Everyone recalls the saturation coverage of a few hundred Iraqis cheering as Saddam Hussein's statue was hauled down in Fardus Square, just as everyone recalls the coverage of recent demonstrations in the Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon: the orange revolution, the cedar revolution, talk of "tipping points" and "ripples of change" in the Middle East. But these latest Iraqi protests got 17 seconds on Channel 4 News. The programme's website delivered the facts that mattered: "The bride wore a cream silk basket-weave coat with herringbone-stitch embroidery and a chiffon dress with applique-woven lacquered disc detail."

Two years ago, the correspondents who on 9 April this year reported on Charles and Camilla's wedding were recruited to lend their opinion on the fall of Baghdad. The BBC's Nicholas Witchell observed: "It is absolutely, without a doubt, a vindication of the strategy." ITN's royal watcher, Tom Bradby, agreed: "This war has been a major success." Subservience to privilege and power is like a moral illness raging through our media, with the developing world acting as its ravaged Dorian Gray portrait. …

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