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Nurturing Iraq's Media

Much has been made of the dangers facing foreign reporters in Iraq. Yet so far this year, 12 of the 14 journalists killed in the country have been Iraqis.

And more Iraqi journalists are playing larger newsgathering roles as hostile actions against foreign journalists have intensified, according to a report by the US-based, nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

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The fledgling Iraqi media deserve support. Unfortunately, the estimated 100 to 200 Iraqi-run media outlets are not getting much. The CPJ notes US troops have been accused of "harassing, detaining, or killing journalists," and rightly calls for an investigation.

Yet the new Iraqi press has uncovered evidence of corruption in the UN's oil-for-food program, as well as reported on fighting between militants and coalition forces. These journalists are also doing a good job capturing daily life in Iraq - from the search for money and food to what it's like living among security barriers.

The US can do more to foster this nascent institution. Reports that Iraqis working for Reuters have been abused by US military personnel obviously don't help foster trust.

Further, a US decision in April to shut down a weekly newspaper run by militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr because it called for violence may have only helped spark a Shiite uprising.

Employees at the largest circulation Iraqi newspaper, Al Sabah (the Morning), walked out May 3 over concerns the US was exercising too much editorial control. (The paper is published with US support.)

The US should have more faith that a fair and independent Iraqi media can help that country triumph over those determined to undermine the creation of a stable Iraq.


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