Back Talk | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week
Pin It

Back Talk 

Letters to the Editor

Blog echo chamber

In the March 26 article on useful war blogs, you cited www.iraqbodycount.net but there are some things I think your readers should know about this site. First, this is not a neutral academic exercise. This site represents a politically driven attempt to present as high a civilian casualty count as possible in the guise of what looks like an elaborate methodology: It is simply a count of all the times claims of civilian casualties are mentioned in the global press, whether those claims come from independent sources, from the Iraqi government, from random eyewitnesses whose credibility is impossible to ascertain by the reporter at the time. (The New York Times' John Burns, probably the finest reporter on the scene in Baghdad, has referred to the "Greek chorus" of men who always await Western reporters who are escorted to the scene of bombings to provide scripted outrage after the fact.) It says much about the site that it has been John Sloboda who has spoken to the press during the Iraq war, since if Marc Herold, the driving force behind the effort, did so, it would be easier for researchers to find the slew of articles debunking this work from Operation Enduring Freedom.

The same problems emerge with this effort. Most fundamentally, it is unclear how civilian casualties can be counted from outside the effected area. This is more of a problem now then it was in Afghanistan, given the widely reported restrictions on reporters in Baghdad. No reporter is able to move freely about the city without a "minder" from the Ministry of Information, and indeed, few media organizations are even operative in the city. They are "reporting" one another's reports. So not only are initial reports utterly controlled by the Iraqis, many of the news organizations the site claims to use are merely stating that another news organization, which does have a presence in the city, said something. This does not constitute independent confirmation: It constitutes an echo chamber.

Further, because of the level of control on news organizations, the site is essentially masking the fact that they are for the most part presenting Iraqi government figures. All someone like John Burns' can really do is report what the Iraqis are telling him, but the careful contextualization of Burns' writing disappears in the sites' simple math.

This, of course, does not even begin to address the fact that the cause of many of these incidents remains unclear. And should we not be equally mindful of the civilian casualties occurring in the southern part of the country, where death squads execute, shell and terrorize? Do those deaths not count equally? The minders of this site are interested only in deaths they can morally charge directly to the United States' account. They have produced a method that looks elaborate, but it is pure politics. We should no doubt mourn for all the civilians killed in this conflict, but jury-rigging a sham count to make the intervention in Iraq look bad does no one any good.

Cori Dauber
Triangle Institute of Security Studies
Associate Professor of Communications Studies
UNC-Chapel Hill

Media alternatives

I enjoyed your article thoroughly on media ownership here in the Triangle [March 26]. I also have been concerned with the diminution of local news and stories in media outlets that are owned by national corporations. It is one of the reasons that I started RTP-TV a year ago.

All too often, large media conglomerates cut back on local news to reduce costs, to hawk whatever their entertainment division is selling that month, or because the owners are so far removed from the actual market that they simply don't care.

Unfortunately, most people that I talk with do not know the people or companies behind the station or newspaper that provides them with so much of their news. I think it is important to know that and I commend your publication for informing the Triangle of those ownership facts.

As a locally owned station, our goal at RTPTV.com is to provide more local coverage. In the early days of TV, many programs on local stations were of local interest and they had very few national or syndicated programs, except in prime time. Now, the reverse is true--except for news, most stations have little or no local programming at all.

At RTP-TV, we decided to change that. We offer all local programming. Our shows are available online free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection. We also buy airtime on two local stations to air our programs.

It is true that media ownership is converging. However, thanks to technology, we believe that the public will be able to change that in the future. No longer do you need an FCC license, several million dollars, and a tower to broadcast to thousands of people.

With an Internet connection, a server, and a video camera, it is now possible to serve a local market with quality TV programming that helps inform the public about important local issues. At RTP-TV we are trying to do just that. It hasn't been easy, but we believe that Triangle residents deserve more local coverage.

Thank you for your time and we enjoy reading your paper.

Randall Gregg
Founder and Director of Broadcast Operations
RTP-TV: The Research Triangle's TV Station
RTP

  • Letters to the Editor

Latest in Letters to the Editor

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Letters to the Editor



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Please, Mr. Keen, inform us on what kind of person Hilary Clinton is. But please leave out the innuendo, unsupported …

by GorSun on Smug Revisionism (Letters to the Editor)

Thank you cleverweist1 and Cristel Gutshchenritter Orrand for the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in as a …

by half full on A Massive Scar (Letters to the Editor)

Mr Pollock makes some good points .
Noam Chomsky and Ron Paul have similar views on wars we have waged …

by CHHS Tiger on History you won't like either (Letters to the Editor)

Sadly, this letter, while well-meaning, is deeply flawed. The background check gun control law has failed but it can never …

by ProudlyUnaffiliated on No new gun laws! (Letters to the Editor)

For the life of me, I do not understand why folks keep yelling about their 2nd Amendment rights as though …

by cityfox on No new gun laws! (Letters to the Editor)

Comments

Please, Mr. Keen, inform us on what kind of person Hilary Clinton is. But please leave out the innuendo, unsupported …

by GorSun on Smug Revisionism (Letters to the Editor)

Thank you cleverweist1 and Cristel Gutshchenritter Orrand for the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in as a …

by half full on A Massive Scar (Letters to the Editor)

Most Read

  1. Safe Spaces (Letters to the Editor)
  2. Recounting Him Out (Peripheral Visions)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation