Journalists in Iraq - A Survey of Reporters on the Front Lines
Results of this survey are based on 111 responses to an online questionnaire. Data collection was managed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). The surveys were completed from September 28 through November 7, 2007. Requests for participation were sent to a total of 181 individuals via e-mail, with a link to an online Web address where the survey was hosted by PSRAI. The response rate was 61%. Each respondent had a unique identification number with which he or she could log in to answer the questions. Individuals in the sample received e-mail reminders that the survey would close on November 7.
Design & Identification of the Media Sample
Respondents were selected using a two-stage sampling procedure. In the first stage, news media organizations were selected and in the second stage individuals were chosen from those organizations.
The sample was drawn from all traditional wire, print, radio and television organizations that have a bureau and/or have sent reporters to Iraq between 2003 and September 2007. We used media databases including Lexis-Nexis, Bacon’s and Factiva to identify news organizations that had stories about Iraq with a dateline in any Iraqi city since July 2006. This included all major national and regional newspapers, as well as broadcast news organizations and news services with staff in Iraq on a regular basis. All but one of these news organizations agreed to participate. The sample included four wire services, 13 daily newspapers, five magazines, two radio networks, and five broadcast and cable networks.
This gave us a tally of 29 organizations. We then consulted with individuals familiar with the press corps in Iraq, the Media Yellow Book and individual news organizations to produce a list of names of foreign editors and journalists with Iraq experience. In all this correspondence, we asked for suggestions about other organizations and/or individuals who had covered Iraq in the last year. The final list consisted of 181 individuals, which we believe approximates a census of journalists who have covered Iraq for American news organizations. Given the sensitive nature of the survey, we first informed the foreign editors of each news organization that we would be sending this survey to journalists in their organization. Individual journalists were contacted directly where no foreign editor/ editor was available. It was made clear from the first that no individual responses would be shared with the news organization. It was also clarified that no individual respondent would be identified in the published report.
No new names or organizations were added after the survey was launched on September 28, 2007.
Design of Survey Questionnaire
There were a total of 46 substantive questions in the survey, of which seven were open-ended. There were three housekeeping questions at the end.
The open ended questions were asked for the critical and sensitive aspects of covering the story in Iraq. They were meant to get the journalists to elaborate and/or describe in their own words the complexity of the situation, and reach at issues that cannot be quantified. They included their perception of what stories were covered well or not, what topics were under or over covered, as well as their thoughts on embedding, screening local staff and their experience in other war zones. The survey concluded with an open ended question on any other thoughts they might wish to share about reporting in Iraq (see Topline.)