On the Web: War on the Web

As I write this column the world is just days away from final United Nation’s Security Council decision on whether or not to “endorse” United States-led strike against Saddam Hussein’s administration in Iraq. It had me thinking about sources of news, views and interpretation other than those offered by our own home grown media. It is always important to keep abreast of global issues, but never more so than now. The column this month offers snapshot of how the major western world dailies are covering the impending conflict and explaining the economic and other issues that arise. The way the papers are managing their online coverage today is indicative of the depth of coverage they’ll continue to offer.

www.nytimes.com This is my preferred online American-based news daily. The format is clean, well laid out and navigation is easy. The paper didn’t appear to have specific Iraq section, but it’s easy to search its archive for all relevant articles from the previous two weeks. The only downside, as with most US sites, is the number of clever ways the paper ambushes you with sponsors’ messages and advertising. Still, that’s what funds the information process in democracy. You must register for access to stories, but it can be done with minimal fuss and no charge. To read about Iraq click through the international section and then click on the Middle East. The NY Times site offers comprehensive coverage of major issues, obviously with an American bias, but it does the job well. I find it useful to check daily for updates on the latest news from the American political scene.

www.washingtonpost.com No need to register to gain access to this other American publishing icon, but you will have to give up your email address, gender and date of birth if you want to read the stories. The Post site offers similar service to that of the NY Times but I find the format less interesting and more cluttered. That said, the Post offers photo galleries relating to Iraq, reports from the field and analysis from Washington. You can also personalise your desired news coverage, but you will need to register. Once registered, you can select exactly what items interest you and it will link you with news related to those topics. The site also offers video coverage of key speeches, interviews etc.

www.smh.com.au The Aussies aren’t just good at sport. The Sydney Morning Herald offered perhaps the most interesting, comprehensive, accessible and creative online account of the unfolding Iraqi/American stand-off. The candidly entitled “Target Iraq” section is linked to an impeccable chronological index of news stories relating to the event, with links to useful graphics and maps, photo galleries and other related resources such as the wording of the UN Security Resolution 1441. It also provides video coverage of related issues and events such as the 500,000 strong protest march in Sydney and George Bush’s State of the Nation address. I’m picking the Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage will continue to be top shelf.

www.independent.co.uk fascination with Middle Eastern correspondent Robert Fisk’s coverage of the Afghanistan war first led me to this site. In my admittedly liberal view of the world, it offers relatively robust criticism and columns on international political events such as Iraq. It’s based in Britain and sits shade left of the political spectrum.

www.timesonline.co.uk Part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, the Times and Sunday Times remain something of British institution. The paper sits to the right of the political spectrum, but its reputation for sound reporting, thorough investigation and informed comment spans the decades. The format of the online version isn’t great, but it provides all the necessary functions of an online paper and you can expect good coverage of the Iraqi/US conflict. Archived material up to seven days old is available free, after which you pay per view.

www.theglobeandmail.com Like the Sydney Morning Herald, Canada’s The Toronto Globe and Mail features “Target Iraq” section. It makes similarly good job of presenting the issue. It has an understandably North American focus, but it offers comprehensive coverage and another perspective.

www.cnn.com CNN isn’t daily newspaper, but it comes into its own in times of news upheaval. Despite accusations of political bias an ex-pat American suggested recently that: “Okay it’s not neutral but Ted Turner has higher ethical standard than many people give him credit for.” He’s gone now, but CNN is still worth following.

There are literally hundreds of daily newspapers sites you could turn to. They include the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com), but that will cost you US$79 per year after your two week free trial; the International Herald Tribune offers visually stark but relevant coverage for which you’ll need to register, and our own Granny Herald has pretty good online site. You might also like to check out www.refdesk.com/paper.html for an index with links to good number of the major papers with websites from all over the world including Iraq.

Damon Birchfield is an Auckland-based freelance writer.
Email: [email protected]

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