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War Pet Peeves

Two things really annoyed me about the war coverage on TV last night. Not the pictures -- despite my colleague Steve Lutz's complaints, I found the live videophone coverage of tanks rolling through the Iraqi desert to be an amazing use of modern technology, even if it was about as exciting as taking a long car ride to Grandpa Saddam's house.

No, what got my goat were a couple failings of journalistic integrity. One is specific: Walt Rodgers of CNN narrated his live tank-driving video by announcing that he was making television -- no, make that journalism -- history. Somehow history-making announcements carry more weight when they're not being made by the person who claims to be performing the historic act. Humility, Walt. Focus on your story, not your place in the history books.

My other complaint is minor, and every journalist is doing it: Constantly referring to the forces waging this war for our side "coalition forces." With the occasional exception -- Australians here, Brits there -- this force is largely American. In fact, "coalition" is a term that the Bush administration has emphasized as a way to make people forget that this is a much smaller group of allies than we had during the last war. Lazy journalists who use "coalition" as a synonym for "American" aren't doing their jobs.


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