News Media Coverage of the Iraq War in Basra, Fall 2007: A case study in “spinning” news for the state

Kurt Lancaster


By examining several mainstream press stories from The New York Times, and the Associated Press during the fall of 2007, the author argues how mainstream news media have mostly failed to examine and put into headlines one of the devastating side effects of the occupation of Iraq: armed militias exerting harsh conditions on the citizens of Iraq, especially in the city of Basra, the site of one of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world. This failure stems from the fact that most of the media appear compliant and complicit in adhering to the government’s presentation of conditions in Basra − that it appears to be improving under “regime change.” News sources not beholden to this influence, the alternative news sites of, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC News, and Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog published stories challenging the views presented by the state, sourcing news outside official government channels. By doing so, readers find that the rise of armed militias in Basra caused corruption in the election process, resulting in a stagnation and decay of Basra’s infrastructure, the loss of jobs, and the rise of Taliban-like religious edicts taking away women’s freedom, as well as music from the public places of the city, which was once considered the Venice of the East.

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