I would love to see more “Arthur Chrenkoff” in my news today. An Australian blogger who wrote a series of blog posts (also carried by the Wall Street Journal) called “Good News from Iraq,” Chrenkoff filled a niche those in the media too often left unaddressed by giving readers information about news from the region that did not consist merely of casualty figures. Chrenkoff scoured media reports and military sources and compiled the “good news” that was often being buried.
The first installment of the “good news” series appeared on May 19, 2004 and ran three pages long. Jeff Jacoby described the “good news” series in a 2005 piece in the Boston Globe: “Chrenkoff’s summaries became must reading for anyone wanting to keep up with more than just the violence and debacles in Iraq… it offered a respite from the grim litany of insurgent violence, Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, and coalition casualties that the mainstream media’s coverage of the war tends to dwell on.”
He went on to describe a few examples of the kind of news in Chrenkoff’s series that was difficult to find in big media reports. “In Iraq… there was news to cheer: the democratic election of town councils in Dhi Qar province. The publication of 51 million new Ba’ath-free textbooks for Iraqi schoolchildren. The ‘‘brain drain in reverse’’ that was bringing thousands of educated Iraqi expatriates back to their homeland to teach. The revival of Kurdish music, long suppressed under Saddam. The reflooding of the ruined southern marshes. The 3-1 upset soccer victory over Saudi Arabia that meant Iraq was going to the Olympics. And more.”
The “good news” series ran until September 2005 when Chrenkoff began working for an employer whose policy did not allow him to blog. The final installment was 44 pages long. Almost two years later there is still no big media equivalent of the Chrenkoff reports. There is still good news from Iraq to be found though, especially in the new media.
Those telling much of the good news from Iraq today are the milbloggers. Current and former members of the U.S. military, as well as their spouses and parents, are telling their personal stories and those of their friends and loved ones serving in Iraq on blogs. Independent journalists like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio, are doing some incredible reporting from Iraq. Their reports, which include the good, the bad and the ugly from the region, are very popular with those getting their news from the internet.
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