WEDNESDAY’S LETTERS: Iraq Death Toll, Jamil Hussein, Steve Outing’s Column on Small Newspapers

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, readers respond to questions about Americans’ reaction to the death toll in Iraq, the editor of a small paper asks Steve Outing how his and similar papers can really make money online, and readers react to E&P’s ongoing coverage of the Jamail Hussein controversy at the Associated Press.


AP Asks: Why Are So Many Upset by the Death Toll?

This odd article seems to suggest that the reason so many are upset by the Iraq death toll is that we Americans now have a short attention span and expect everything in a much shorter time than our parents and grandparents. Other than a quick quote buried in the column, there is no mention of the main reason so many are upset about this war — as well as the toll in human lives and suffering of our troops. This war was started on false premises, conducted by dishonest politicians more interested in protecting the interests of Halliburton than our soldiers. And, contrasted to our involvement in past wars, this one is evidently being waged for no other reason than to cover the collective asses of the chickenhawks who started it.

Why are we upset about the death and mutilation of our soldiers? Because they shouldn’t be over there. Because they are forced to occupy another country after the Republican politicians overthrew their government. And to those who would ask, “Would you prefer that Saddam still be in power?”, I and many other Americans can reply, “Who cares – it makes no difference to us either way.”

There are far greater threats to our nation still out there, including the people who actually did attack our country. (Do you recall Osama Bin Laden? Anybody?) Thanks to the efforts of Bush, Cheney, Rove and the rest, those criminals are still at large and likely to remain so as long as America is bogged down occupying a country that never was a threat to us in the first place. And while the Republicans who got us into this situation sit back in Washington – with their own draft-age children safe around them – American soldiers are left ill supplied and without competent leadership. The politicians seem more interested in tax breaks for corporate heads than helping our soldiers.

Why are so many upset? Please. Give us a break.

Steve Snyder
St. Louis, Mo.

Maybe we’re upset because we were lied into a war of aggression. Maybe they were less upset during World War II because they knew what they were fighting for, and were actually attacked by the enemy.

Our technologies did not delude us into notions of a quick, painless war. Our leaders did, with the help of people such as wrote the title editorial.

Jody Schaeffer


Editor to Web Advocates: Show Me the Money

I’m a little confused about Steve Outing’s Jan. 2 column, which purports to give advice to small newspapers and then runs on for 800 or 1,000 words about the Internet. Our 22,000 circ weekly has had its own Web site for the past six years and we only recently started making money on it when Google AdSense picked it up. And when I say making money, I mean covering the cost of maintaining the site. Not one local advertiser has ever asked to buy an ad exclusively on the site despite its having as many readers as the print edition, realizing quite correctly that much of that readership resides out of state and even out of country.

I don’t think we’re alone. Are there any examples of print newspapers or magazines with Web sites that are meaningfully profitable? Most operate at a loss, a sad fact neither Outing or the rest of the death-to-print crowd seems willing to admit.

Mike Hudson
Niagara Falls Reporter
Niagra Falls, N.Y.


AP Sourcing and Jamil Hussein

Thank you for your story about AP’s credibility problem over their Iraqi source, Jamil Hussein.

I was struck by the contrast between this statement (from your article): “Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, told E&P today that she had not read Jordan’s latest item, posted Monday, and likely would not.”

And this statement (from the AP’s THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES) “Any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously.”

With your organization has deep contacts in the newspaper industry, have you made any attempt to contact members of the Board of Directors of the AP to see if they share Ms. Carroll’s view that the AP need not pursue this any further?

Kevin Patrick

It is clear the E&P has the same journalistic credibility as the AP. in fact you ridiculed those who questioned the existence of Jamil Hussein in the past. So tell us E&P where Jamil Hussein is. Stop being a foil for the AP and try honesty for a change. Nah, you and the AP are hopeless and both of you are now confirmed liars unless you produce this guy. You won’t, they won’ are both useless hacks.

I never thought a hack like Eason Jordan (the CNN executive who has to resign for non-truths) is now challenging other liars for some truth. Wow!

Joseph Plumitallo

Do you really think that most people don’t notice how deferential you are to one of your guild-mates? You don’t mention the 61 sole-sourced articles. You don’t mention that the good Captain has not only not been produced, but he quit reporting when this story started getting attention from bloggers, which by the way was a long time before any “real” journalists would look at it.

The fact of the matter is that this stinks, and has stunk for a long time. But I am the only one in my office of professionals who knows anything about it, because the guild is holding the line for one of its own. Nice work, all you pros that know what we rubes need to know, and what we don’t, know it better than the people we get to elect. Nobody elected you to anything, much less a 4th branch of government.

You may think you are being tough on the AP, but that’s only because softball rules are de rigueur for examining guild-member misconduct, and even you can’t just roll-over anymore on this one. But I look at your Greg Mitchell’s’ off-hand assumption that the Haditha Marines are guilty as charged, despite some serious doubts about the evidence, and with no mention of the conflicts of interest of the witnesses, and lack of respect there is glaring.

Can you seriously claim that if there was one-tenth of the circumstantial evidence for some misbehavior on the part of any Republican as there is here that the AP is simply making things up, you would be screaming for blood, and if you can’t see that, then you don’t want to see it. Do you think you can fool everyone forever?

I guess I know the answer to my question: Yes you do, and that’s why the AP keeps stonewalling and you keep giving them the benefit if the doubt that you won’t give anyone but your friends (and certainly not Marines in combat). If you want to know why many Americans hold the media in contempt, take a look at the AP’s brazen Nixon imitation, and your abetting of it.

Dave Runyan
Seattle, Wash.

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