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IPI releases report on press freedom violations and the media's role in the 2003 Iraq war

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

Vienna, 28 May 2003

IPI Releases "Caught in the Crossfire: The Iraq War and the Media", a Report on Press Freedom Violations and the Role of the Media in the 2003 Iraq War.

In the 54-page report, "Caught in the Crossfire: The Iraq War and the Media - A Diary of Claims and Counterclaims", IPI documents the unfolding of events relating to the media from the point of view of the media.

At least 15 journalists died in the conflict. Two are still missing. Journalists and media outlets were targeted and attacked; journalists were beaten, harassed, jailed and censored. The battle over the airwaves and public opinion was seemingly as important to the belligerents as the battles over territory and air superiority. Propaganda, bias and disinformation were more prevalent than accurate and relevant information.

An estimated 3,000 journalists covered the conflict, making it one of the most covered wars in history. This number includes more than 800 journalists who were embedded with coalition forces. The manner in which journalists worked with coalition forces caused great controversy, as did the treatment of journalists according to their status as either "embedded" or "non-embedded" / "unilateral" reporters.

Unlike the two previous Gulf wars, there were also a greater variety of Arab news organisations covering this conflict. For this reason, there was a substantial increase in the number of 'claims and counterclaims' over the media's reporting of the war.

In "Caught in the Crossfire", readers will be able to follow the most important daily political and military events during the Iraq War. From the media's point of view, the most tragic day was 8 April, when three journalists were killed by coalition forces. Some observers claim that they had been targeted as media workers. IPI does not choose sides in this debate, but it carefully examines the evidence in order to let it speak for itself.

All protests written by press freedom organisations over the press freedom violations and threats to the freedom of expression that transpired during the war are examined. In the concluding pages of the report, IPI notes some of the outstanding events of the Iraq media war and ultimately requests that additional full and transparent investigations be made into the numerous press freedom violations that took place.

You can read the full report on the IPI website: http://www.freemedia.at

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