Thursday, December 11, 2003

A letter to the New York Times 

Armed Liberal urges readers to write a letter to the New York Times to protest the fact that they failed to cover the story of anti-terrorism protests in Iraq yesterday. So that's what I did. Here's the letter I wrote to Dan Okrent, the new Times "public editor":


There was a major demonstration in Baghdad yesterday by Iraqis against terrorism, but the Times failed to cover it, except in the ninth paragraph of another news report. I'm sure, Mr. Okrent, that you've gotten many complaints about this, and you'll get many complaints in the future about liberal bias by the Times's news coverage. This, it seems to me, is Exhibit A in Times bias. To most conservatives and moderates like me, if there were a demonstration in Baghdad against American policy, the Times would put it on the front page the next day with a headline like "Thousands Protest American Occupation in Iraq".

As I mentioned above, the Times did mention the demonstration briefly in another article. That news report, by Edward Wong, was on the deaths of two American soldiers and the robbery of $800,000 from an Iraqi government bank. While the death of any American soldier is newsworthy, I would argue that the demonstration yesterday was more important and newsworthy because it signaled in a small way that many Iraqis are supportive of what the United States is doing. That narrative, on a broader note, has been almost completely missing from the Times's coverage of Iraq.

I hope this issue will be the first you address in your column two weeks from now, because it is probably the biggest issue on which the Times is losing credibility.

Thanks for reading,
Hei Lun Chan
UPDATE: Okrent's assistant, Arthur Bovino, sent a reply:

Hei Lun Chan,

Thank you for your inquiry.

The Times did print a picture on page A18 of the rally against terrorism in Iraq.
The caption reads: “Taking a stand against guerrillas, Iraqis stood on columns in Baghdad yesterday during a rally that attracted thousands. The attacks have killed and wounded Iraqi civilians as well as Americans and their allies.”

Mr. Okrent has asked me to tell you that Roger Cohen the editor of the foreign desk is away this week and he intends to meet with him next week when he will bring up reader concerns about the Iraq coverage.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times
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