PD story "Memos raise questions on U.S. push to war in Iraq" also raises questions on NEO media and globalism

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 06/21/2005 - 09:15.

The war in Iraq is big news world-wide. Whether reports on casualties or offensives, the news papers, airwaves and internet are on constant high-alert for stories on developments, which they publicize daily. It is thus surprising a major Iraq-related story that has been big news world-wide was not featured in the mainstream US news until this past weekend. The story is of eight secret "Downing Street Memos" - DSMs - which raise considerable cause for global public debate on a lack of US and UK government honesty and openness leading up to America declaring war on Iraq. Why are the DSMs, which the press in Europe starting reporting on May 1st, just now becoming "front page" news in America... seven weeks after the story broke in the UK?

Plain Dealer "reader advocate" Ted Diadiun felt it necessary to dedicate his 06.19.06 Page 2 Sunday column to this question, and his explanation offers critical insight on the state of US mainstream news reporting and American and Northeast Ohio society today.

His column states: "On international stories like this, we usually take our cue from the Associated Press and the New York Times wire service," Plain Dealer Managing Editor Tom O'Hara said. "The Downing Street Memo was barely on their radar screen. We followed their lead."

Diadiun then poses the question "why has the subject suddenly grown legs?" He answers by explaining:

First, Bush nemesis Rep. John Conyers has refused to let it die, keeping it in the news by insisting that Congress hold hearings and by gathering a half-million signatures on a Web-based petition.

Second, a Web site called downingstreetmemo.com has coordinated an e-mail campaign, asking people to write to a few targeted newspapers each day (our day was last Tuesday, when we got a couple hundred e-mails from our loyal readers in California, New York, Wisconsin and other places asking us why The Plain Dealer did not cover this important issue).

The fact Diadiun feels a need to justify the PD's past lack of interest in the DSMs indicates the PD expects heat for slighting a story that suddenly has "legs". The more legs the DSMs get, the more heat the PD may expect - clearly, the media is as concerned as President Bush to appear open and professional, and the DSMs may be WMD against all that.

That Diadiun and PD Editor O'Hara defer resinponsibility for reporting on international news to two wire services makes a strong case for readers simply reading international news on-line. And Diadiun makes a stronger case for his local readers to get their news on-line when he explains it was activism by people on the Internet from "California, New York, Wisconsin and other places" outside NEO that forced the PD to promote coverage of the DSMs to front page status here. In the end, it appears the PD believes they under-reported an important story, and people outside NEO needed to inform the PD of their mistake so that, seven weeks out of synch, people in NEO got all the news fit to print. The big question is, why weren't people in NEO among those challenging the PD to promote the DSMs? The answer is people in NEO are not connected with the knowledge economy, and that is frightening news for this region.