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May 2, 2004
NY Times Lauds Americans' Efforts In Iraq, But It's Not News

After unrelenting negative coverage, especially over the past month while spot insurgencies flared up and the discovery of distasteful mistreatment of prisoners came to light, the New York Times attempted to give a more balanced look at American efforts in Iraq today. George Vecsey reports on American efforts to rebuild Iraq and to provide safety, security, education, and childhood back to Iraqi children:

You rarely see smiles like these on the 6 o'clock news or on the front page.

Alex Fyfe gets to see Iraqi children with a happy look on their faces, as they kick soccer balls on the dust and rocks. He thinks of the green soccer fields of Long Island and the lacrosse fields at the United States Military Academy. ... As the civil affairs officer for his battalion, based near Mosul, Fyfe's job is to improve conditions in one small corner of Iraq. With the help of many friends back home, Fyfe was able to take soccer equipment to the children. ...

Although there are disagreements over the United States' role in Iraq, a civilian back home can make this positive perception via the news media's "embedded" access: With a few odious exceptions, the troops over there are a fair representation of the best and the brightest, of what we like to think we are.

Vecsey does a fine job of profiling the efforts of Fyfe in encouraging contributions from home and in squeezing the most out of what he gets in order to build schools, playgrounds -- and relationships -- in Iraq. He notes that the children named their new school after Fyfe's unit, the Striker Brigade, indicating that Fyfe is making a difference in Iraq. He even tells a story about Fyfe's lacrosse teammate, John Fernandez, who lost two legs in Iraq during the initial military invasion, and who won't be playing lacrosse any more, giving a poignant twist to Fyfe's heartfelt efforts.

Only one problem: the New York Times buried this article in its Sports section, apparently thinking that an American helping Iraqi children and rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure wasn't News-worthy. It's not even headlining the Sports section -- it's stuck in the Other Sports subsection, just above the story "United States Edges Russia at Hockey Worlds".


UPDATE: I hope Glenn Reynolds is right and more people read the Times' Sports section ... it certainly has the best journalism at the paper, although I realize I'm damning Vecsey with faint praise.

UPDATE II: I forgot to mention that I've crossposted this at the media watchblog, Oh, That Liberal Media, which has several fine bloggers contributing to it. If you don't already have this blogrolled/bookmarked, be sure to do so soon.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 2, 2004 10:25 AM

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