Farnaz Fassihi Describes the Media Coverage of Iraq

Question: Is the Wall Street Journal’s coverage different from the New York Times?

Fassihi:    I don’t really think there’s any difference.  If anything, I think there was a great advantage to being the reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Baghdad.  We had a very small staff.  For about a year there was another reporter who was based in Iraq, but for most of the time I was alone.  You know, the Journal didn’t really cover news or breaking news as much as The New York Times or The Washington Post, so, it kind of freed me up to be able to focus on enterprise reporting.  I would sometimes work on a story for an entire month and really, you know, go in depth and try to, like, cover all the angles because I didn’t have to worry about the press conference today or over the breaking news about the military.  So, it was really liberating and, I think, you know, it made you feel good about that reporting you were doing too because you could do more in depth enterprise reporting for The Wall Street Journal.

Question: How do you view the overall reporting from Iraq?Fassihi:    Well, you know, I think that reporting Iraq is very challenging.  It presents a lot of risks.  It’s very difficult and changes depending on what’s happening on the ground in Iraq and the security situation.  So I think the media have had a hard time, you know, reporting Iraq and they’ve done a remarkable job, staying the course and, sort of, you know, figuring out creative ways to tell the story.  I think one of the challenges was that the violence was just so spectacular, that the headlines were often stolen by the number of people who were killed, the number of suicide bombs, the violence here, you know, how many people killed and, you know, after a while it feels like the readers back here have Iraq fatigue, that to them Iraq is just a bunch of numbers and figures where, you know, there was a human story behind the war and, I think, the biggest challenge and the lesser told story of the war is really what happened to the Iraqi people and the human side of the war.  A lot of the coverage that the war gets from American media is centered around the troops, you know, how the American militaries doing on the ground and foreign policy.  And it’s hard to, you know, get enough and enough coverage for just ordinary, normal Iraqi people who are coping.

Farnaz Fassihi describes a few of the challenges facing reporters on the ground.

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less