The war in Iraq is passing from the American memory, before it's even
over. Analysis of news reports on the war, show that 15 percent of news stories
were about the Iraq war last Summer, but are only three percent now. It's out
of sight, out of mind. For example, a recent survey asking people how many U.S.
troops had died in Iraq, only about a quarter knew the number (4,000). That's
half the number who knew the correct number all the way back to 2003.
directors say they are putting more effort into covering the presidential
election, and the usual stories (celebrity scandals, disasters of any sort,
notorious criminals). But there are other reasons for ignoring Iraq. Since last
Summer, more good news than bad news began to come back from the front. This
was not useful for news organizations. Bad news makes money (by attracting
larger audiences for advertisers), good news is useless. Moreover, only about
five percent of Americans (military personnel and their families) have any
personal interest in Iraq. There are even fewer Iraqi Americans to care. There
are also fewer veterans. Only nine million American actually served in the
armed forces during the official Vietnam war period (1964-1975, most U.S.
troops were out of Vietnam by 1972, and the big build up didn't begin until
1965). And only 30 percent of those were actually in Vietnam. That's 2.7
million troops. Those who served in Vietnam represented nearly ten percent of
the men of their generation. The current war on terror will probably only
involved a few percent. Veterans of older wars are dying off at a rapid clip.
The Iraq war is something most people simply can't relate to.
In a word,
the war has no constituency. News stories about how much the war costs, which
impacts all tax payers, tend to flop, so news directors have come to think of
Iraq as a poorly performing subject. The war won't go away, it will just seem
like it has, if all you do is pay attention to the mass media.