An event is news if it is the opposite of what should be. And the more rare the event is, as compared to what should be, determines the legs of the story.
At least that was what I was taught as a young student and news photographer.
The events of Nov. 19, 2005, as outlined by TIME Magazine are news, big news because they meet the two prongs of the news test–they are the opposite of what should be and are rare.
As someone who lived with a Marine infantry platoon for a month and who has witnessed the aftermath of successful and failed IED attacks, the events described by TIME, if true, are indeed very rare.
During the Summer of 2005, I watched a counter-insurgency war being fought under a legal and media microscope.
Every shooting, whether it resulted in death or injury, was investigated by the JAG Corps and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Every allegation of abuse made by a detainee, no matter how preposterous, was investigated by the JAG Corps.
The restraint shown by the platoon I lived with was almost inhuman and I doubt I could have matched it.
But the stories of Marines, after being blown of with an IED methodically pursuing and engaging the trigger man, and only the trigger man, are not news because they are what happens every day and are what should be.
And therein lies the Haditha delima.
Every day and every hour, another small success, another victory, another step toward progress, another should occurs.
But, because these events should be, they are not news.
Then, after thousands and thousands of instances of what should happen, the opposite strikes and it is news.
The story of Nov. 19th in Haditha, of one infantry company, and probably not the whole company, more likely just one platoon or even squad of one infantry company, has now generated thousands and thousands of gross ratings points.
But, the daily successes that should and do happen, keep going, with no one knowing about them, creating an impression that coalition forces are willing to engage in and cover up vile acts.
The platoon I was with in Iraq, did everything they should have done.
And as far as I know, the other Platoons and Battalions were on the should side of the news equation, meaning, it wasn’t news.
The story of Nov. 19th in Haditha is not the only story of Iraq, just one of the few that fits the legacy media’s definition of news.