Though the war has produced some of its bloodiest casualty numbers this past summer, the number of embedded journalists has dwindled to under a dozen. At one point the number of reporters and TV crew had been as high as 600.
What does this say about the news coverage of the war? You'd have to be on Mars not to know that President Bush's approval ratings are not much better than New York Yankee's Alex Rodriguez' batting average during the playoffs.
Increasingly viewers don't approve of the President's Iraq war policy and now, it seems, don't really care about the results. Viewers could be more interested in juicy domestic government scandals that have surfaced, along with news of the forthcoming November elections.
We had interest in Katie Couric in the driver's seat at "CBS Evening News" for about a month and a half now. All that drove TV news viewers back to network news--for a moment. But the real news of people dying--some of them Americans--isn't making the cut.
News organizations seem to believe the interest in the war is waning. Other reasons are that U.S. commanders, who give final approval on whether to have reporters embedded, may be cutting back. A couple of reporters have been bounced because of breaking some security rules--like reporting on the tricks of insurgents. Other security rules are that reporters can't reveal details about upcoming military plans.
Still, some news organizations, like the Associated Press, continue to embed. "It is an important tool for us in covering this conflict," said AP International Editor John Daniszewski, in an AP story. "It is vital to get a firsthand look at the activities of American forces on a regular basis, to report on their interactions with Iraqis, and to assess the state of fighting in places where it would otherwise be difficult to travel."
Real war seems to give TV news directors and their viewers more reality than any reality show could give them--especially with reporters in the middle of the action. But apparently viewers believe there is little new information here, that we have all been here before, that the war is like a show in reruns.
One thing for sure, they don't want it renewed for another season.