October 22, 2007

Yon: Looking For A Few Good Readers

Michael Yon has his latest dispatch posted, blasting the current state of media affairs: Resistance is futile: You will be (mis)informed.

He begins:

No thinking person would look at last year’s weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, or are waiting for us to leave so they can crush their neighbors. This view allows our soldiers two possible roles: either “victim caught in the crossfire” or “referee between warring parties.” Neither, rightly, is tolerable to the American or British public.

He does, however, have in mind a solution:

Clearly, a majority of Americans believe the current set of outdated fallacies passed around mainstream media like watered down drinks at happy hour. Why wouldn't they? The cloned copy they get comes from the same sources that list the specials at the local grocery store, and the hours and locations of polling places for town elections. These same news sources print obituaries and birth announcements, give play-by-play for local high school sports, and chronicle all the painful details of the latest celebrity to fall from grace.

To illustrate the absurdity to which this conceit of the collective has grown, I'm tempted to borrow from the boy in the fairy tale, only this time pointing to and shouting at the doomsday-sayers parading by: "Hey, they aren’t wearing any clothes. . . . " Except in this case, I realize I am not a lone voice. Furthermore, with the help of other clear-eyed individuals, I may actually be in a unique position to do something to remedy this, if the experience I had with the AP response to my challenge to investigate and report on the disturbing gravesites in the Al Hamira village is any guide.

Although I can't answer to the cause of the problem, I humbly offer permission to media outlets to republish excerpts of the dispatch or the dispatch in its entirety, including my photographs from the story (if used as they are in the dispatch) at no cost during the month of July 2007. I only ask that the site receive proper attribution and that any publication taking me up on the offer email the website with the details.

That offer was dying on the vine until Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee took the Associated Press to task for their bungled reportage of a different mass graves news story, using my dispatch as a comparison. Although it took a little back and forth, and some additional pressure from all the other bloggers who started tracking on the topic, the AP finally dispatched a reporter to the scene. The resulting article was picked up by at least one other major media outlet, reaching thousands more people. This got me to thinking: what if I made a similar offer on a more permanent basis to a large media syndication, say, the National Newspaper Association?

And so Yon is going to syndicate his text and images, for free to get real, frontline stories of the war to the American people, doing the job that Americans the Manhattan and Washington, DC-based professional media won't do.

But it will take your help to make sure that your local paper newspapers take advantage of the offer.

Those readers can first check to see if their local paper is a member of the NNA . Because only NNA members will be able to
" . . . print excerpts of Michael Yon's dispatches, including up to two of his photographs from each dispatch. Online excerpts may use up to 8 paragraphs, use 1-3 photos, and then link back to the full dispatch on his site saying 'To continue reading, click here.'"

If their local paper is a member of NNA, readers can contact the editor, urging their participation. [If Bob Owens' experience is a reliable indicator, this might take several, uh, prompts.] By encouraging their local daily or weekly newspapers to reprint these dispatches in their print editions, more people without internet access can begin to see a more accurate reflection of the progress I have observed and chronicled in dispatches like "Achievements of the Heart," "7 Rules: 1 Oath," "The Hands of God," and "Three Marks on the Horizon."

In addition to making his work available to your local papers through the NAA, Yon is rebuilding his web site, and having it translated into a total of 17 languages, so that though people in nations where English isn't their primary language can get information from a source a bit less biased than Reuters, AP, AFP, or their state-run media.

None of this, of course, comes without a price. Click on over, and see what you can do to help fight the media war.

We can gripe about how poor and deceptive the media coverage in Iraq is, or we can do something about it. The choice is yours.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 22, 2007 06:19 AM

Larger papers will have difficulty taking Yon up on his offer as it will be seen as tantamount to an admission of prior flawed coverage. If they label his work a special series and he omits criticism of the MSM from his work, I think there's a chance. Otherwise, he's biting the hand that he's asking to distribute his work.

Posted by: daleyrocks at October 23, 2007 09:37 AM

They can choose any dispatches they want. Not all mention the media.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 23, 2007 10:18 AM