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August 31, 2004

How does enormous news become insignificant?

When I first received the press release that tipped us off to this story last Tuesday, I assumed Lisa Croke would be riding the coat-tails of other media outlets. Because we are so careful with our reporting and we have a meager full time staff of just two editors, our turn-around time is usually slower than the cable news networks and wire services. We're used to that. We're also more accurate as a result. The trade-off is worthwhile.

But 30 hours after posting Lisa's story, even our version of it is getting relatively insignificant play around the web, where one might expect an article revealing that torture is probably continuing to this day would actually garner more attention. Even among leftist and dissident websites it is receiving astonishingly little coverage.

A Google News search reveals that only 3 websites indexed by that engine have reposted our story (, The Experiment and The World Crisis Web), and no one else has run a story on quite the same subject. A few other sites not indexed by Google news have picked it up, but not many -- at least not many that have linked to us. (We have lots that show who is linking to our site.)

Meanwhile, we sent the story out to several dozen website editors -- most of them alternative media outlets -- asking them to reprint it.

Now, you can bet if and when a big media outlet gets a story this solid -- actual eyewitness/victim accounts of torture as recently as July 2004! -- all of the alternative meda reposters and linkers will jump on the commercial version of the story. It won't matter that The NewStandard spent more time on it, or a greater portion of its budget, or that our version is written from a progressive perspective. It will be instantly validated because it has the commercial seal of approval.

If I sound bitter, that is not my intent. Really, we have been dealing with this for a while now, and frankly we've been disappointed on too many occasions. Just for our Iraq coverage alone, we've had what seemed like enormous stories on our hands, we took the time necessary to gather them, vet them and put them in proper shape, but for all intents and purposes, what should be stories read by millions go virtually untold. The one that sticks out most in my mind is the expose our then-Iraq correspondent, Dahr Jamail, wrote on the May 10 "victory" celebration in Fallujah, in which we posted photographs depicting US-backed Iraqi security personnel cheering the departure of the US Marines in the streets with armed guerilla fighters.

Nevertheless, we keep plugging away, looking for and publishing the most accurate, hardest-hitting news we can. We've broken any number of great stories, and in due time the public will probably learn about most of them. It's just a shame to think that for the untold number of Iraqis presently undergoing torture, abuse and sexual assault in US-run holding facilities, "due time" probably doesn't seem soon enough.


nancy: How does enormous news become insignificant?

Brian - I was pointed to your story about the continuing prisoner abuse (torture, murder) problems in US-run prisons in Iraq by a mention in the Christian Science Monitor. And I'm about to link to it on my blog, -- which I hope isn't a copyright violation of your work! -- so maybe the story will start getting some traction now.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.