CNN Shutters Its Operation in a Country Whose Dramatic News Events Once Almost Singlehandedly Defined What CNN Was

May 31, 2013  •  Post A Comment

CNN has quietly shut down one of its international bureaus, bringing an end to an era after having a bureau in the country since 1990. TVNewser reports that the cable channel closed its Baghdad bureau. CNN was the last U.S. television news organization to still have a real bureau in the city, according to the report.

In a statement, CNN said: “While CNN is departing its current brick-and-mortar location in Baghdad, the network continues to maintain an editorial presence in Iraq through a dedicated team of CNN stringers and correspondent assignments as news warrants.”

CNN’s reporting from Baghdad at one time defined the great lengths the cable news network would go to in its efforts to bring international stories into our living rooms. "During the Gulf War Peter Arnett became a household name worldwide when he became the only reporter with live coverage directly from Baghdad," according to the well-documented Wikipedia entry about Arnett. "His dramatic reports were often given with air raid sirens blaring and the sound of U.S. bombs exploding on Baghdad in the background. Together with two other CNN journalists, Bernard Shaw and John Holliman, Arnett brought continuous coverage from Baghdad for the 16 initial intense hours of the war (17 January 1991). Although 40 foreign journalists were present at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad at the time, only CNN possessed the means to communicate to the outside world. Soon the other journalists left Iraq, including the two CNN colleagues, which left Arnett as the sole reporter remaining there."

The bureau closure comes a month after the U.S. marked the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Other channels have closed their bureaus in the past few years.

"The scaling back in Baghdad is emblematic of a broader scaling back among TV news organizations when it comes to foreign bureaus,” TVNewser reports. “Expensive offices filled with staffers that only produce a handful of stories a year are going away in favor of correspondents or anchors who fly to wherever the story is on short notice. There are also mini-bureaus consisting of one reporter who shoots and cuts their own pieces.”

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