Monday, February 23, 2004


Take a look at what happens when it is restored after 30 years of state owned media.
Every Arab country has its state newspapers, where readers find the officially approved version of the news. In the new Iraq, the ''government'' newspaper in the eyes of many is the one backed by a Pentagon contract.

Abu Muhammad al-Hassan pointed to the U.S.-funded Al-Sabah daily at his newsstand in downtown Baghdad. ''You could say that's the 'semiofficial' paper. It's certainly the best selling,'' he said. ''But there's so many now.''

Stacked across the sidewalk at al-Hassan's kiosk was a colorful variety of newspapers, reflecting the blossoming of the press since Saddam Hussein's fall in April. Suddenly, Iraq leaped from being terrorized into silence to becoming unique in the Arab world, a country with nearly no restrictions on the press.

Censorship is gone and no laws govern the media, so newspapers have become a free-for-all. In place of the five main strictly-controlled papers under Saddam now folded nearly 170 have sprouted up, according to one U.S. estimate.

The result is a newsstand that looks a lot like Iraq itself: Every ethnic and political stripe from political factions to Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds weighs in with its voice, others join in looking to make a profit, and the Americans stand above, influencing things where they can.

With the Americans due to hand over sovereignty on June 30, journalists are hoping that whatever Iraqi government comes to power doesn't put an end to the party.
By the way...that freedom...courtesy of the USA and Great Britain.

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