I'm exposed to little[1] of the what the mainstream media considers "news" outlets, but I still find myself feeling beat to death with "news" about Iraq.

I would like one day to pass during which I can look at a mainstream newspaper, web site, and other media outlet without seeing a single mention of Iraq or the so-called "war" there.

Is that really too much to ask? Does the average person really care so deeply about what's going on in Iraq (or what's not going on there) that the big media outlets feel compelled to beat us to death with "news" about it?

I find it hard to believe. But then again, it's entirely possible that I don't know many average people.

[1] Really, NPR and infrequent visits to news.yahoo.com are the extent of my regular exposure. I can't imagine watching an hour of the nightly news every day as well as listening to the radio and reading a newspaper. My parents have been doing it for years and I really don't know how they can deal with it.

Posted by jzawodn at May 10, 2004 07:36 PM

Reader Comments
# Brad said:

Whenever our military personnel are dying, people care - bottom line.

on May 10, 2004 08:47 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Sure. They're clearly more important than other folks who are dying, right?

on May 10, 2004 09:14 PM
# Alden Bates said:

The average American *should* care that US troops are over in Iraq. In fact, the average American should be positively enraged by it, considering the pictures coming out of there of late.

The only danger is people are probably tuning it out by now...

on May 10, 2004 09:35 PM
# Citizen of the World said:

There is no doubt mainstream media is given to hype and sensationalism (sic). However, when it comes to Iraq, I think all Americans, average or otherwise, MUST care.... its being done in *your* name, and you can be for or against, but there can be nothing worse than people being killed by indifference.

In general, in a democracy, the issue of "caring" is somewhat self correcting, in the sense that "people get the government they deserve". However, these days, the rest of the world also gets an American government that the American people deserve, and so can only hope and pray Americans "care" about whats happening to the rest of us.

on May 10, 2004 10:14 PM
# barry said:

maybe instead of wishing you didn't have to hear about it, you should be wishing we weren't illegaly invading another country?

on May 11, 2004 12:35 AM
# rayg said:

my main exposure is through the rss feeds i scan, and that's when i really wish i could hook something like procmail into the aggregator so i could filter everything like iraq+bush, google+ipo, etc. into a spam folder.

on May 11, 2004 12:47 AM
# justin said:

I've always found the news in the States to be incredibly sensationalistic, and at times, downright idiotically dumb (e.g. Fox news, CNN) - all "news" and no content.

maybe if jeremy did a stint in Europe, he'd become a news junkie again.

having said that, invading other peoples countries, not signing up to the International Criminal Court, rejecting the Kyoto treaty, killing thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civillians and then torturing them as well on top of that, doesn't exactly help America's image in the world.

America unfortunately is fast becoming a rogue state (right up there with North Korea) in many European's minds. That's just how it feels over here across the pond. I really do hope this changes.

on May 11, 2004 02:05 AM
# non-american said:

Jeremy's sentiment is echoed by Aaron Swartz (http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001226).

This is the wrong time to tune out.

on May 11, 2004 02:44 AM
# said:

good link - i think aaron gets it in a nutshell:
"It lets everyone feel good and well-informed while actually providing them with nothing."

obviously not a reader of the UK Independent newspaper (or the Guardian either...)

on May 11, 2004 08:02 AM
# Joe Grossberg said:

OK Jeremy ... since you fibbed about not mentioning Iraq again, can you elaborate on why you call it a "war" with the quotes?

Certainly, it was a war, sans quotation marks, when they captured Saddam (your earlier post) by any definition I can think of.

Regardless of where you are on the spectrum between being an advocate (a war for freedom, against terrorism, against WMD, etc.) or an opponent of it (a war for oil, for profits, for colonialism, etc.), how do the US/UK/coalition combat operations in Iraq not constitute a real war?

on May 11, 2004 08:48 AM
# Nelson said:

Jeremy, I agree the news in Iraq is incredibly depressing. But the solution isn't to tune it out, it's to do what you can as an American to improve things. We broke Iraq, we can't just throw it away.

One of the responsibilities of being a citizen in a democracy is staying informed.

on May 11, 2004 08:56 AM
# Loon said:

The war on Iraq stopped being a war a while ago and has since been our politics interfering with Iraqi government. Rather than pack up and go home (I'll leave the discussion to others as to whether we should have been there in the first place), we have stayed and have "helped" them reconstruct their government at the cost of our soldier's lives and the lives of Iraqi civilians. Being a former soldier and having a friend who is still over there, I can tell you the soldiers want to come home and are frustrated as they no longer know why they are there.
The news every day is becoming redundant and like Jeremy, I am feeling a bit "underwhelmed" by the news feeds. If the news didn't contain anything about Iraq and our continued presence there, would anyone really notice? I'm hoping we would, but I can't be sure. We shouldn't callously forget what is happening there, but the media is making it easier to tune out. Like a dull pain, it loses its effect after a while.
Sadly this will continue to be a media sensation, even after we have pulled out. I am sure there will be news about more and more things "coming to light" long after the soldiers are home and seeing their families for the holidays.
It's made worse by this being an election year. The media loves to point the fingers (deserved or otherwise) as much as possible at the candidates for re-election - in this case the president. So we can expect this to stick around for a while unless something bigger (in the eyes of the media) comes up.
Some friends and I were discussing, recently, what the biggest cause of the dumbing down of America was and after a few jokes about MTV and others, one of my friends said it was the news media.
None of us laughed.

on May 11, 2004 11:20 AM
# Andy Todd said:

Is your reaction indicative of why the news sources in the US rarely mention anything other than domestic items? It sounds like Iraq has been moved between the East and West coasts (at least according to the media) now. Whenever I've been in the US I have been amazed at the lack of world news in the media there.

It's a big old world and I can't help thinking that understanding a little more of it's whys and wherefores wouldn't benefit us all. That and a thorough understanding of the value of a good forward defensive stroke in Cricket of course.

on May 11, 2004 12:39 PM
# Joel said:

I'm curious about what it is you think the news media should be covering instead of Iraq. The conflict there is involving huge amounts of deployment of US forces, taxpayers' dollars, American credibility in the world, and human suffering. Any of those factors alone would make it an important news story.

It's fairly rare at the moment that the US media actually pay attention to an important story. Should we get more blanket coverage of the Kobe Bryant trial? Or Scott & Lacy? Or American Idol?

I am something of a news junkie myself, and I find myself reluctant to tune in to the story. But not because it's not important -- just because it seems so depresssing. Maybe I need some e-serenity.

on May 12, 2004 02:03 PM
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