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Scoop Feedback: Missing Coverage?

In this edition of Scoop Feedback a Scoop Reader takes issue with the absence of celebratory coverage on Scoop today concerning the fall of Baghdad. Following this you will see a reply from the Scoop Editor explaining why this is so.

Scoop welcomes reader feedback. Please send your news and views to editor@scoop.co.nz

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Missing Coverage?

Mr./Ms. Editors,

I would like to express my dismay at your inexplicable lack of coverage of recent, undeniably significant events in Iraq. Some 18 hours after the 40-foot statue of Saddam came tumbling down in the center of Baghdad's Firdos Square, there has been no direct acknowledgment in the main section of scoop.co.nz of this incredible event.

I understand and honor that the scoop position is one of extreme antiwar and disgust at the United States. However, I cannot begin to fathom how a website that claims to be "Top 3 New Zealand news web sites" could fail to show any of the images of today's events and exclude the comments of Iraq's ambassador to the UN.

Although pictures of Iraqis throwing their shoes at statues of Saddam Hussein and handing flowers to US Marines may not be an accurate reflection of how you feel the war should be portrayed, it is unacceptable for any responsible news organization to deny the existence of such events. Last week you showed Al Jazeera's pictures of mangled Iraqi innocents.

Why did you not show the images of jubilant and defiant Iraqis pummeling Saddam murals and statues that Al Jazeera showed today? I have been following your site for several months with intense interest and am disheartened that you would exclude a part of reality because it apparently did not mesh with your ideological belief or pedagogical mission.

It would be perfectly fine to engage only in editorial content, but because you claim to carry the mantel of journalism, it is expected that you do more than post a "George Bush the Actor" satire page. In addition, your display of images of slain Iraqi civilians is commendable in that it counters the sanitized video-game version of the war we receive by watching CNN or Fox News.

However, to ignore reports of the "White Tiger" alleged torture/prison facility in Basra (which appeared on every network from BBC to Al Jazeera) is equally irresponsible and one-sided. I find it disturbing that you only seem to be interested in the Iraqis who reinforce your political agenda. Are their lives worth less than those innocent civilians who have died in the current conflict?

I would love to hear an explanation for what I feel are unacceptable omissions.

I have no problem with your editorial viewpoint and may even support your political mission, but such serious breeches of journalistic integrity force me to question whether you have created a hermeneutic circle that is no more accurate than the "establishment" one you are struggling against.

Hopefully your response will ally my concerns, but frankly I cannot imagine receiving a satisfactory explanation. I hope you can prove me wrong.

Eric Bana

University of Pennsylvania

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Scoop Editor Responds

Dear Eric,

My colleague Selwyn is in the process of preparing a report on the overnight events in Iraq. The most significant reason for the absence of coverage on our front page today is that we are a small team and we have been busy today.

That said I have a few responses to your criticisms.

1. We have published material today related to the events in Baghdad in our International wire. We have not highlighted it on our Front Page in the center column because it is only press release material - and we had other material and coverage that is more interesting.

2. We have no access to wire material or images as other news websites do. Therefore we have to be careful about the sources we use for such stories.

3. Here in NZ we have had a couple of other important stories to cover today particularly the Air New Zealand Qantas merger decision.

4. And finally. Scoop's editorial stance is typically to present an alternative viewpoint to that portrayed elsewhere. The fact that this story or that story is covered by "every network" is probably a good indicator that you will not necessarily find it on Scoop.. that is unless it is absolutely vital - and in this case the story about the statue smacks to me of pure propaganda. A set up media event staged with a group of locals, portrayed as spontaneous, and designed for the propaganda purposes of the American forces.

We shall see what emerges about this story over time, and as usual I expect you will probably learn more about the real story here at Scoop than you will find on the networks in coming days.

At present the battle for Baghdad is not over as I understand it.

Meanwhile there is a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions unfolding throughout Iraq, and the networks that you are keen to commend seem reluctant to report the levels of civilian casualties that led up to Donald Rumsfeld's so-called "tipping point" last night.

In conclusion I would observe that I as editor of Scoop I personally am not celebrating the victory over Saddam (I would add that Scoop's position on the war is neutral... we are happy to run pro-war arguments they are just seldom submitted.)

I personally am not celebrating today because:
1. This was an illegal war founded in deceit and fought in deceit;
2. This was a war which, superficially at least, cements in the place of the Bush Administration as global hegemon, and this is good for noone. All this victory really signals is the beginning in a new and more dangerous phase in the clash of civilisations that the Bush Administration appears hell bent on pursuing against the counsel of every sane person on this planet;
3. I notice that Donald Rumsfeld is already singling out Syria for what would appear to be phase two of the Neoconservative's total war intentions;
4. While ridding Iraq of Saddam is a good thing, the US is yet to own up to being significantly responsible for him being there in the first place; for providing him with the weapons of mass destruction that he used on his own people; and for imposing a clearly comparable amount of harm on the Iraqi people through their sanctions regime as that which derives from Saddam.

Alastair Thompson
Scoop Editor


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