May 2009 saw Iraq take another fall from America’s headlines. The war did not make it into the top ten news stories for any of the four weeks of that month according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Not only did Iraq not make the top ten, for two of those four weeks it did not make the top ten in any of the five major media sources in America, newspapers, the internet, network TV, cable TV, or radio.
For the two weeks of May 4 to 10 and May 11 to 17 Iraq was not only absent from the top ten stories in the country, but did not make the top ten in any of the five press outlets. For May 18 to 24 Iraq again did not make the top ten stories, but did reach number 5 in newspapers with 4% of its coverage. That week saw the conviction of Steven Green, a former soldier, for the rape and murder of a 14-year old Iraqi girl, and her parents. From May 25 to 31 the war did a little better. While it did not make the top 10, it was the number 7 and number 8 story in newspapers, and number 10 on network TV. On May 25 three Americans were killed in a bombing in Fallujah, the next day a U.S. soldier died, and another on May 28. In total, 24 U.S. soldiers died in May, the highest number since September 2008.
May’s news coverage was a further drop from April. That month Iraq did make the top ten for one week, but was out for the other four. Not only that, but for the first time since the invasion, the war also did not crack the top ten of any media outlet for one of that months’ five weeks. March 2009 was the first month Iraq did not make the overall top ten stories. America’s press has been decreasing its stories on Iraq since the beginning of 2007. As Washington began turning to other issues like the 2008 presidential campaign, the recession, and Afghanistan-Pakistan, so did the media. Unless American elites begin talking about the war again, Iraq can expect to fade more and more in the news despite the fact that there are still over 100,000 troops in the country.
BBC, “US deaths in Iraq rise sharply in May,” 6/1/09
Dao, James, “Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence for Iraq Murders,” New York Times, 5/21/09
Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “The Debate Over Gitmo And Waterboarding Drives The News, PEJ News Coverage Index: May 18-24, 2009,” 5/25/09
- “Economy Up And Flu Down In A Stressful Week, PEJ News Coverage Index: May 4-10, 2009,” 5/11/09
- “Politics Punctuate The Terrorism Debate, PEJ News Coverage Index: May 11-17, 2009,” 5/18/09
- “Sotomayor Spin Wars Dominate The Narrative, PEJ News Coverage Index: May 25-31, 2009,” 6/1/09
Robertson, Campbell, “U.S. Soldier and 11 Iraqis Die in Attacks,” New York Times, 5/29/09
Santora, Marc, “State Department Official Is Among 3 Killed in Iraq,” New York Times, 5/26/09
Williams, Timothy, “Bomb Kills G.I. in Baghdad as Attacks Keep Rising,” New York Times, 5/27/09