The Washington Post
When I hear this term “good news” [that the press allegedly fails to report], I think of the Arab world I used to cover in 1995, official news agencies, writing about the accomplishments of President Mubarak. I mean, it was despicable. This was good news in their eyes. I just don’t understand the distinction [between “good” stories and “bad” ones]. I mean, what Iraq is today and what they envisioned it being before the invasion of 2003 — How else do you chronicle that except through the deterioration of the country? It’s not a success story, and to call it a success story is propagandistic at this point.
A friend of mine who was working for a British paper kept getting a lot of pressure to write “good-news” stories. I can remember him saying, “I’ve written a good-news story in Hillah; I hope they print it before Hillah blows up.”
The Washington Post
You’ve got journalists saying to the embassy there, “So tell us about the reconstruction projects you’re doing, tell us about the great things you’re doing so we can write about it and show this side of the story.” You’ve got public information officers saying, “Sure, we’ll take you there, but you can’t say where it is, and you can’t name anybody, and you can’t take any pictures, because if we point out the location of this, it could be a target for the insurgency, and if we name people, they could be subject to retribution.” Is that really progress when you can’t go and report basic facts of something because they’re too worried it’s going to be attacked?
The Christian Science Monitor
Good news? My first inclination is to say, “What fucking good news?” The violence and criminality of Iraq has only grown in the three years that I’ve been here. And there is not an honest metric that shows anything but that. That’s the big story. If the Jets and the Sharks were ruling the streets of Manhattan after dark, that’s the big story, not whether or not the municipality painted a few schools. Now, we have covered in great length and detail, and I’m talking about the press in general, all sorts of stuff that’s been done, whether it’s been power plants that have been redone, water plants that have been rebuilt. Of course, after a while the Americans didn’t want you to go see stuff they’d rebuilt because if it gets publicized, it’s more likely to get blown up sooner. Reconstruction has failed because there is a war on. And I’m not aware of any single war in human history in which basic living conditions of citizens living in the war zone improved before the war ended.
Yousif Mohamed Basil
As an Iraqi, living inside Iraq, I cannot hear good news, and even if there is good news, you cannot hear it with the noises of explosions and the noises of the terrorists and the noises of American military operations. It’s very difficult to hear a lot of things. It’s very difficult to practice a lot of rights. It’s very difficult to practice freedom. It’s very difficult to do a lot of things. So, there’s no good news about Iraq. There’s no good news at all.
The Guardian, Getty Images
So this debate accusing the media of not conveying the good news is such a — I mean do those people know what we are digging through when we go to Iraq? Just flying into Baghdad, driving, just doing the simplest, the basic, simple things, just being in Baghdad, existing in Baghdad is one of the most dangerous things you can do in your life, let alone covering it. So the effort we put into writing a story, any simple story, is enormous. And none of us, I don’t know any journalist who accepts taking such a risk just to manipulate the truth or write the bad news because you have this hidden agenda. People are getting killed on a sectarian basis. People are leaving their neighborhoods. Militias are roaming the streets; despots are functioning in Iraq. People are getting kidnapped; people are getting killed. Everyone’s getting killed: barbers, bakers, professors, officers, insurgents, Americans — everyone’s getting killed. So what are you going to write?