Iraq war coverage sets a new pace


As expected, TV is breaking new ground in its coverage of the war in Iraq. Never has any war provided as much live reporting from the battlefield.

But some things stay the same. Specifically, CNN Ñ which, as in the Persian Gulf War of '91, has provided the most extensive reporting from Baghdad.

The Gulf War had a tremendous impact on television journalism; that will surely be the case this time around, as well.

For now, though, some first impressions will have to suffice.

Most dramatic coverage: CNN's Nic Robertson, one of the few TV correspondents who remained behind when the war started. NBC's Peter Arnett was there, too, but his live dialogue with Tom Brokaw was plagued by technical problems.

While network anchors were describing the Baghdad bombing in measured tones, Robertson was able to give an up-close and personal play-by-play ('Get away from the window!').

In addition, during the intense bombing of downtown Baghdad on Friday, ABC's Richard Engel Ñ though clearly unsettled by the nearby explosions Ñ used his vantage point just across the Tigris River to provide some harrowing narration that was accompanied by pictures from Arab television.

Best reporting from the Pentagon: NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, the first to report that Saddam Hussein was the target of the initial U.S. bombing. CNN's Barbara Starr, who seems able to talk nonstop for an hour without pausing for breath, consistently has been out in front of her competition as well.

Best network anchor: NBC's Brokaw Ñ always calm, cool, collected and not interested in flapping his lips just to hear himself talk. CNN's Aaron Brown should take note.

And where was ABC's Peter Jennings, who was late getting to the studio on Night 1? Perhaps he'd been embedded at a dinner party.

Early trend that didn't last: Studio anchors telling correspondents with U.S. forces in Kuwait to 'Stay safe,' 'Keep your head down' and 'Be careful.'

Most surprising technical development: That correspondents wearing gas masks didn't sound muffled, and that the quality of the satellite video phones was much improved from the campaign in Afghanistan.

Cable news channel most likely to give you a headache: Fox News Channel. From the anchors to the reporting to the graphics and the annoying sound effects, the code word here has been 'shrill.'

Best holdover from the Gulf War: CNN's Wolf Blitzer, field anchoring from Kuwait.

Best embedded reporting amid desert dust and sand: CNN's Walter Rogers, speeding along to Baghdad with the armored vehicle of U.S. Army 7th Cavalry's armored vehicles.

Best rising news star: So far, there's no one in the class of Arthur Kent, the 'Scud Stud' of the Gulf War.

Best local reporting of the Portland protests: KATU's Dan Christopher, whose institutional knowledge and experience in covering previous clashes between protesters and police were refreshingly evident.

Pete Schulberg is the host of 'Portland's Morning News' on KPAM (860 AM). Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..