A Pressing Issue: Homegrown Media,
Democratization and Socialization in Post-Conflict Iraq
With 86 journalists dead since hostilities started, the Second Gulf War has seen more violence and death for media personnel than in twenty years of armed conflict in Vietnam. Yet, the fate of Iraq largely rests upon the crux of a free press, which is so essential to democratization and liberalization processes that it is usually touted as the fourth branch of democracy. As the so-called Fourth Estate, free media can re-socialize a nation-state, either antagonizing or diminishing ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq. In this way, it is important to analyze homegrown Iraqi media-with a newly "freed" press, what are the voices of Iraq saying? How are differing opinions being represented? Cultivation theory shows us that print and electronic media can be stunningly successful in shifting our perceptions of social and political reality. With that in mind, studying the state of Iraqi media extends into a larger and more important study of the state of Iraq's nationhood, and whether a coherent, peaceful, well-informed public can truly be made out of the devastation of the conflict.