Media ignores attack on Abu Ghraib prison

From Paul McLeary of the Columbia Journalism Review:
...On Saturday, in what has been called the largest and most sophisticated insurgent attack in Iraq to date, a group of between 40 and 60 members of al Qaeda attacked Abu Ghraib prison, wounding 44 Americans and 13 prisoners. The attack, which employed mortars, rockets, several coordinated ground assaults and a car bomb, took the Marines guarding the prison over an hour to beat back with the help of Apache helicopters and artillery. One might think that a major engagement with a high casualty rate (at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, no less) would grab some headlines back home -- after all, even saturation coverage of the pope's death leaves some room for other news. Yet the story has been largely buried on the back pages of our major dailies. The attack merited a brief mention in Sunday's papers, with the Washington Post dumping it on page A16, and the New York Times publishing a story on A11 that clocked in at a paltry 393 words...The reporting on the story has been generally sloppy as well...There's no doubt that reporting from a war zone is a messy, confusing business, and military authorities have reasons for withholding certain information. But the utter disregard the American media have shown this story is astonishing. Even with other news elbowing lesser stories out of the media spotlight, a major attack on an American military installation in an ongoing war seems like something that might be worth hearing as much about as, say, the latest accusations against a certain Southern California pop star.


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