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December 12, 2003The Academy Award goes to... anyone but the US media. Coverage of the Iraq war, and embedded reporters in particular, came under the spotlight at a workshop hosted by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The event began with the screening of four nominees, all European, in the news coverage category at the Academy's prestigious Emmy awards earlier this year. Channel Four/ITN carried off the title but the content of the final four selections provided interesting fodder for the workshop discussion.
Co-incidentally all four entries emerged from the Gulf conflict. Channel 4's programme began from Baghdad on the day Saddam fell and covered events and atmosphere in the following days. It was joined on the short list by Germany's ARD for a report on the radioactive DU ammunition, France 2 Television for a powerful piece on looting at Baghdad Museum and footage from the UK's Associated Press Television News.
The workshop was chaired by International Academy executive director Georges Le Clere and president Fred Cohen. They explained that the awards were not open to American broadcasters but that didn't stop the audience having a go at the US media and the concept of embedded journalists. Many of the comments were aimed at war coverage in general with the consensus being that the truth had been the first casualty in Iraq. The most acerbic remarks were on US journalists 'sense of theatre' and even American speakers themselves offered no defence on the discussion.