“How the Media Covered the End of the US’s Longest War”

From The Poynter Report by Tom Jones: “How the media covered the controversial end of the US’s longest war”:

On Sunday afternoon, CNN’s Jim Acosta went on the air and said, “After 20 years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the entire U.S. military effort is collapsing over the course of a weekend in embarrassing fashion with the type of scenes we haven’t witnessed since the fall of Saigon in Vietnam in 1975.”

So what about the coverage?

On TV, there was one destination for viewers: CNN. In times like these, it’s evident that no U.S. network is more equipped to cover such a major international and national story quite like CNN. Its coverage on Sunday was outstanding, particularly because of the on-scene reporting from the likes of CNN’s international security editor Nick Paton Walsh and chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward.

Even as Ward was talking on camera from Kabul, viewers could hear gunshots in the background….Ward described chaotic and dangerous scenes of people raiding banks for money and scrambling to find safety.

Ward was asked if it was safe for her to move from her location to the airport. She said, “I think if we were going to the airport right now, that would be ill-advised because it’s dark. If you’re going to the airport now, you’re probably not coming back. For the moment, we would like to continue to report here and we’ve put out lines to the Taliban to that effect, requesting that we be able to continue to do our jobs as journalists. There’s no sense at the moment that Western journalists are being targeted.”

But then Ward quickly pointed out how the same could not be said for Afghan journalists, particularly women.

“They’ve been doing bold and incredible reporting for many years,” Ward said, “and now there’s a very real fear they might face retaliation for that or that, certainly, they won’t be able to do their work anymore.”

While analysis can be valuable to viewers on stories such as this, it also tends to be the laziest of the coverage. It’s easy to line up three or four guests to hand-wring, second-guess and criticize (and Fox News did plenty of that on Sunday). It’s much more difficult and yet way more beneficial to viewers to emphasize reporting over opinion….

Panels are the best when the topics are how we got here and what happens next as opposed to pointing fingers. Again, that’s where CNN shined above others.

Meanwhile, The New York Times and The Washington Post had top-notch coverage from reporters and photojournalists on the scene. ABC News had a special half-hour report during prime time Sunday night. It was anchored by Linsey Davis with reporting by senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell, chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl and congressional correspondent Rachel Scott.

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