Television

CNN pulls out all stops in Iraq attack coverage

MUMBAI: CNN International has doubled its staff in West Asia including Iraq (northern Iraq and Baghdad), Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Israel to provide a live coverage of the ongoing US invasion of Iraq.

The news schedule would be presented from CNN?s main production centres in Atlanta, London and Hong Kong together with round-the-clock anchoring from the CNN broadcasting facility in Kuwait, a company statement has said.

CNN currently has over 150 staff deployed across the middle east. Some CNN correspondents reporting from the middle east include Nic Robertson and Rym Brahimi in Baghdad, plus Christiane Amanpour, Jim Clancy and John Vause, Sanjay Gupta, Brent Sadler, Jane Arraf, Ben Wedeman and Alessio Vinci.

As the Iraqi conflict escalates, CNN's Kuwait studios will link to studio programming from Hong Kong, London and Atlanta, as the network broadcasts a live rolling news schedule.

As events unfold special editions of programmes will be introduced to the schedule to allow for greater discussion of events. These will include Q&A, CNN?s daily interactive programme where CNN anchors question experts on the day?s key issues; Insight, a half hour in-depth analysis of the issues behind the news, and International Correspondents, a forum for the world?s journalists to discuss the events affecting the news agenda.

While CNN has refused to quantify the amount that would be spent to cover the war, the talk doing the rounds is that it has pumped $35 million into bringing the war coverage live.

The words that CNN president Chris Cramer used in his speech on 15 March at the FRAMES 2003 in Mumbai come to mind here. "Broadcast journalism around the world is at cross-roads but the integrity of the profession has never been in more danger than we find it!"

Highlighting that healthy scepticism is the need of the hour, Cramer stated: "Diverse opinion - unpopular opinion, sometimes-unpalatable opinion. I have told CNN staff to dig deeper into this series of events as is intellectually and practically possible. If we drilled to a thousand feet into issues in the past I want now to drill to 10,000 feet. And deeper. To be sceptical at all times-of politicians, or lobby groups or military minds."

"CNN is not a mouthpiece for any government - The US government, the British government or any other government for that matter. Healthy scepticism will be necessary for all our journalists, especially those reporters-thought to be over 500-who will be working with us and British military units," Cramer added.

Cramer recalled an article written by Harold Evans, former editor of Britain's Sunday Times, recently in which he says that "without the cooperation of the armed services, the press cannot hope to cover a war. The trade-off is a measure of access for a measure of official control." Cramer wondered as to how much control will there be.

Just how much control should be clearer from the type of media coverage that will be dished out as this conflict heads towards its logical conclusion.

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