Perhaps it's because the deaths of journalists in war, while on the increase in Iraq, is still more unusual, but the coverage of the deaths of two CBS journalists in Iraq Monday was disturbing...especially coming on Memorial Day.
Consider the first two paragraphs of an article distributed by the New York Times News Service:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Two Britons working as members of a CBS News television crew were killed yesterday and an American correspondent for the network was critically injured when a military patrol they were accompanying was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter also were killed in the attack on a joint U.S. and Iraqi patrol that killed the two CBS journalists, and six other soldiers were wounded, a statement by the U.S. military command said.
Is it any wonder that polls show Americans hold journalists in such low regard. The death of a soldier did not make it into the article until the second paragraph. For that story to be published on Memorial Day makes it even worse.
And it's not as if the New York Times was the only media outlet to employ the same news judgment. I just listened to a report on NBC's Today Show in which the death of an American soldier and an Iraqi civilian in that same incident was almost thrown in as an afterthought. To be fair, Matt Lauer, commenting after the report, went out of his way to make sure that impression wasn't left, but that would not have been necessary if the story hadn't been told that way in the first place.
The deaths of journalists need to be reported, of course; it is part of the story, but the deaths of American soldiers should never be relegated to the second paragraph.