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Moving Around Iraq, Following The Money, and What About The Corpus Christi Caller-Times?

While media pundits are working overtime examining every angle and implication of the public relations snafu following Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, the Financial Times' Peter Spiegel writes to Poynter's Romenesko to make sure credit is given where it is due -- to the tiny Texas newspaper that broke the story:
…we seem to be forgetting to congratulate the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for what has to amount to one of the greatest scoops by a smaller-town daily in recent history…If it wasn't for the relationship their reporters built with the owners of the ranch, the world may never have known that Cheney shot someone.
Perhaps newspapers aren't such a dying breed after all.

One of the often-cited challenges associated with reporting in Iraq is the difficulty in moving around the region. CJR Daily's Paul McLeary recently offered an inside perspective of what it's like for journalists to travel around the country and today's Los Angeles Times offers some similar fare. LAT tracks the movements of U.S. Army historian Sherman Fleek – tasked with writing the "official record of postwar reconstruction." Much like McLeary, Fleek's experience navigating the complex system that serves soldiers and civilians was riddled with more than a few setbacks.

Because the carrier is the U.S. Army and not JetBlue, a simple ride from Point A to Point B can be a gantlet of inscrutable procedures, unbelievable discomforts, lose-lose choices and long, cold waits.
Fleek gave himself two days to get from Baghdad to Mosul, do his research and return … the trip ended up taking four days.

And as Congress buzzes with the talk of earmark reform, Neiman Watchdog, an arm of the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, chimes in with a veritable instruction manual on how to find the pork in the new Defense budget – all 2,966 instances of it, amounting to $11.1 billion.

Anyone can perform a simple exercise to find the pork. For example, the text of the 2006 JES for Research and Development is 116 pages. A random page flip will lead the peruser to one of many tables that will show the name of the programs requested by the president and – importantly – what Congress insists must be added. There will be hundreds, nay thousands, of these additional "congressional interest items." That's the pork.

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