The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Press in Iraq feel the Iron Hammer too
On November 10 I mentioned the travails of NBC hack Jim Miklaszewski, who received a death threat (kinda) from a CPA official for filming at the al-Rashid Hotel bombing on October 26.
It seems that Operation Iron Hammer - USG's policy of grabbing the Iraqis by the balls in the faint hope that their hearts and minds will follow - applies to journos, too.
According to AP (November 13), Miklaszewski's is far from an isolated incident:
The Associated Press says soldiers in Iraq detained one of its photographers and a driver in late September near the site of the Abu Ghraib prison. Knight Ridder says its photographer at the scene of the Nov. 2 downing of a Chinook helicopter had photographs destroyed by the US military. Reuters, which had a cameraman killed in August in what the US military called an accident, says another photographer was detained last month by Iraqi police alleging to be acting on orders from US forces.
A letter has gone from Associated Press Managing Editors to Larry Di Rita Acting  Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, complaining that
During the past three months, journalists have been harassed, have had their lives endangered and have had digital camera disks, videotape and other equipment confiscated.
Filed in the cylindrical tray over at the Pentagon, I suspect!
Rather than give truck to the overseas branch of the Filter, USG is taking steps to establish its own media operation in Iraq, equip to supply, via satellite, local affiliates with nice, friendly (to USG) packages all neatly tied in a bow - so says Joe Hagan  in the New York Observer.
The piece seems just to contemplate CPA-TV beaming over coverage of press briefings and like. But there would be much more value-added for them in supplying the equivalent of the video press release beloved of businesses and NGOs : all sorts of softball stuff - happy, smiling children at a newly reopened school - Thanks Mr Paul! - interviews with photogenic personnel. And video postcards back to home town stations - imagine the letter-writing campaign of the 503rd Airborne (October 17) - only nationwide, and in living colour!
(A companion piece in the Observer by Sridhar Pappu  looks at the existing CPA media operation.)
If the PNAC Damascus Express is running a tad late, at least a proper media regime for the Liberated Zone of the Middle East is being worked into shape ready for the tanks to roll...
[Most of the links via the essential Romanesko]
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