Eat The Press

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Newsbusters.org

Editor & Publisher has a report on the state of the media on this fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq - and, like most of the news honoring the landmark date, it isn't good. Newspapers that have been covering the war firsthand since the beginning say the pool of reporters willing and able to go to Iraq is dwindling, budget constraints were and continue to be a problem (no surprise, given the recent report on the short-changing of Iraq freelancers), and the dangers for foreign correspondents continue to escalate. New York Times foreign editor Susan Chira notes that the safety factor for reporters is the worst it's ever been, while LA Times foreign editor Marjorie Miller says that 25% of her paper's foreign budget has gone to Iraq reporting, with at least 40 reporters doing rotations in Iraq and still more needing to be hired when their predecessors burn out. Meanwhile McClatchy, which took over Knight Ridder's Baghdad bureau after last year's sale, has lost much of its Baghdad local staff, made up of Iraqi citizens who've been forced to flee the country, according to managing editor/international Mark Seibel.

Over at the AP, we have more accounts of reporters seeing things go from bad to worse, with a piece on NBC and ABC Iraq correspondents Richard Engel and Terry McCarthy, both of whom have been covering the war since the beginning. This week their respective networks will be showcasing their work, which has included dodging bullets and escaping carjackings while trying to hold onto a personal life at home. While the AP delves into the threats both men have faced during their four-year stint, most telling is Engel's money quote: "Sometimes, what's most frightening is the down time, when you think, 'It's been four years now; how often can you press your luck?'" Sounds like our senior military is starting to wonder the same thing.

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