Bad News Dries Up In Iraq

The Investor Business Daily Had This on News From Iraq:

For the first time in months - in fact, since the U.S. troop surge was put in place in June - coverage of U.S. policy in Iraq does not rank among the top 10 news stories as tracked by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The percentage of news stories devoted to events in Iraq, moreover, has shrunk to 3%, the lowest since September and barely half the 2007 average. In only three other weeks this year has Iraq coverage been so scanty.

All this in a period when word managed to get out through other sources that:

U.S. troop casualties have plunged to their lowest level since February 2004, as rocket, mortar and suicide bomb attacks have all hit two-year lows.

Iraqi civilian casualties are down two-thirds from their peak in December 2006.

Iraq's government and the U.S. military say al-Qaida has been vanquished in Baghdad, as thousands of Iraqi families return to the capital to rebuild their lives.

Iraq's government has signed up 20,000 Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites to fight foreign terrorists.

The U.S. has announced it will remove 3,000 troops, with more to follow in coming months, as the wind-down of the surge begins.

But so it goes with anti-war news organizations that aggressively report setbacks in Iraq but give short, if any, shrift to the positive developments.

It's to the point where some news observers use the absence of news about Iraq as a bellwether of U.S. progress - the old "no news is good news" indicator.

As sufficient as that may be for more savvy news consumers, the question remains of how Iraq coverage - or noncoverage, in the current context - affects attitudes in the population as a whole.

In other words, how can Americans led to believe the war in Iraq is a "mess" or "mistake" or "quagmire" (to use terms repeated often in media accounts) ever see it differently if they hear or read nothing to the contrary?

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