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US news organisations failed to properly report civilian casualties during war on Isis, Airwars finds

MAJOR US news organisations have too often failed to properly report civilian casualties during the five-year war in Syria, according to a new study published today by conflict-transparency charity Airwars. 

In its News in Brief report, the charity analysed US-media coverage of civilian casualties in the recent war against Isis.

It found that “news reporting on civilian casualties from international and US actions, was found to be largely absent during key periods of the conflict.”

This was despite the fact that “a significant majority of media professionals believe that it is the responsibility of US news outlets to investigate all major cases of civilian harm during war.”

The study by investigative journalist Alexa O’Brien canvassed almost 100 US-media professionals “with a particular emphasis on field reporters and defence correspondents.”

The report found that “major US media were also five times more likely to report on civilian harm from Russian and [Syrian] regime actions at Aleppo than they were from US and allied actions at Mosul.”

The report says that the surveyed journalists “say they considered media reporting on civilian harm caused by so-called Islamic State, by Syrian government forces, or by the Russian military to have been conducted more satisfactorily than coverage of civilian harm caused by the US, by other coalition partners and by the Iraqi military.”

The poor reporting on civilian casualties, Airwars concludes, was a result of “declining foreign bureaus and newsroom staff at US media outlets; a ferocious news cycle dominated by domestic politics; the quandary of credible sourcing for civilian casualty claims; little opportunity to embed with US troops on the ground; and the expense and risk of security and logistics for reporters in the field.”

The full report can be read here: mstar.link/Airwars. 

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