Out with the old

Stateside coverage of the Iraq War drops down the news agenda, while Ireland bids a sad farewell to two of the country's quirkiest magazines. By Tom Rowe


Iraq slips off the radar

Reporting of the Iraq war in the US media has fallen drastically in recent months. The war was the most covered topic from 2003 up until mid 2007, but since then has dropped to one fifth of that level.

On television, ABC, CBS and NBC, the three largest broadcasting networks, together devoted 4000 minutes of nightly news to Iraq in 2003, 3000 in 2004, then down to 2000 minutes for the following years, before dropping to around 1000 minutes by the end of 2007. 

On other media such as newspapers, TV, websites and radio programs, Iraq accounted for 18 per cent of prominent news coverage for the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 per cent in the following three months, and only 3 per cent this year.

The fact that the last six months have been the safest for American soldiers is a significant factor in decreased reportage, with 33 killed each month, compared with 91 a month the previous year.

Also noteworthy is the cost and danger of putting journalists in the field. The New York Times spends $3 million a year covering Iraq. Recent months have seen a drop in numbers of reporters embedded with the US military, from hundreds in the early part of the war, to tens now. From 2003 to 2005, one journalist or their support workers were killed every twelve days, going up to one every eight days in 2006 and 2007.  

Foggy Memories

Ireland is notable for its lack of small scale, independent magazines. A comparable developed country often has several, catering to a literate audience interested in the alternative sides to socialising, music, politics and fashion. Sad then that we have recently lost two examples with Foggy Notions and Mongrel. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that they could have been paragons of their type.

Foggy Notions magazine was a luxuriously produced showcase for the off-kilter music that the gig promotion arm of the FG sovereignty brought to our shores. They continue to bring performers here, but the magazine is to be solely online.

Mongrel had a broader remit, and remained steadfastly adolescent as it assailed our sensibilities. Taking in the usual subjects, with strange features on Dublin and international affairs, bizarre design and a devil may care attitude, it managed to solider on for five years. It seems adulthood beckoned, with regular Mongreler Eoin Butler now filing a column on hobbies for The Irish Times magazine.

All may not be lost. State magazine (not to be confused with Slate) is the answer to Hotpress that we have been disinterestedly waiting for. In fact, State is a kind of schism from that venerable publication, with its crack team made up of ex-Hotpress staff, alongside the new generation, with music blogger Nialler9 crossing over to the printed word. More magazines are to be welcomed, but the fact that the first issue of State has Micheal Stipe of REM on the cover, as do Hotpress and Q, indicates a uniformity of thought which can only result in less variety for readers.