Thursday, December 15, 2005

Here's to You, Ms. Friedenauer!

Is the MSM finally starting to turn? Fairbanks News-Miner correspondent Margaret Friedenauer, embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Mosul, reports (Hat tip: Dr. Sanity):

Everything I thought I knew was wrong.

Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than [I had] playing in my head...I had similar notions about Iraq, Mosul, the war and what exactly soldiers do. And it was handily shattered like glass today by a group of soldiers, half of them younger than myself...

I still haven’t seen U.S. troops engaged or encounter car bombs or explosives. But I did see them play backgammon with some local police and Iraqi soldiers. I saw them take photos with more locals and make jokes mostly lost in translation. They gave advice and expertise to local troops on how to conduct a neighborhood patrol. They drank the local customary tea, and many admitted they’ve become addicted to it. They know several locals by name. I didn’t hear one slight or ridicule of a very distinct culture.

...people back home don’t quite get it. They don’t see the real picture. They don’t get the real story. Some of them, like Lt. Col. Gregg Parrish, look seriously pained in the face when he says only a part of the picture is being told; the part of car bombs and explosives and suicide bombers and death. It’s a necessary part of the picture, but not a complete one, he says.

I’ve listened to the soldiers and Parrish about the missing pieces of the puzzles that don’t reach home. My selfish, journalistic drive immediately thinks “Perfect. A story that hasn’t been told. Let me at it.”

But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I can’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome they’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.

But then I realize it’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one. It takes a minute to wrap my mind around it, as a news junkie that became a news writer. The great, career-making, breaking news stories usually don’t have happy endings

Ms. Friedenauer thus cites another motivation behind the endless criticisms of America's conduct: the desire of the journalist for career-making, high-visibility glory. It takes "a minute to wrap my mind around it" because Ms. Friedenauer - "a news junkie turned news writer" - finally realizes, to her shock, that such careerism can be a prime conflict with truth telling, and she needed the time to sort out which ideal she valued more, before deciding how to report to her newspaper.

Of course, truly experienced MSM journalists would never make such a mistake. Here's to you, Ms. Friedenauer!

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