In the New York Times, Brian Stelter tried to take the stock of the US news coverage of the Afghan. "As the Obama administration conducted an Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review this month, the news media did too, and the coverage came peppered with question marks", he said.
He cited the ABC News series of segments titled "Afghanistan: Can We Win?", the special report "Can This War Be Won?" of CBS Evening News by Katie Couric and a recent New York magazine headline questioning "Why Are We in Afghanistan?"
"The questions reflect the complex nature of the Afghan war, and of the news coverage", he argued.
During the November 29 - December 5 week, for example, "Afghanistan was the No. 5 story of the week (3%), which included coverage of an attack that killed six Americans and President Obama's surprise visit to the country on December 3", the PEJ news coverage index said.
"The grueling war there is like a faint heartbeat," said Stelter, citing a study by the PEJ, "accounting for just 4 percent of the nation's news coverage in major outlets through early December. This is down slightly from last year, when the war accounted for 5 percent".
But it is a problem of news coverage or of readers attention? Does the Afghan war still draw people's attention?
"The low levels of coverage reflect the limitations on news-gathering budgets and, some say, low levels of interest in the war among the public. About a quarter of Americans follow news about Afghanistan closely, according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press", NY Times noted.
After President Obama's statement about refocusing attention on Afghanistan, news organizations too withdrew from Baghdad and moved staff to Afghanistan again. "But," in Stelter's opinion, "there is no doubt that cutbacks by media companies have affected the way that the war is transmitted to American living rooms".
This tallies with the findings of the Media Standards Trust study about the decline of international reporting in the British press and the Reuters Institute one about the changes in foreign correspondence.
Stelter cited also a study of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which does a weekly survey about what gain the public interest (the News Interest Index) in conjunction with PEJ's News Coverage Index. In 2007, when the study started, the Afghanistan conflict accounted for only 1 percent of the nation's news coverage, and the same accounted in 2008. The coverage picked up at the end of 2009 when Obama conducted a review of Afghanistan strategy, but still added up to only 5 percent for the year.
Another study analyzing news content from a different perspective found that 60% of the top stories on news websites covered the same topics as legacy media, but that blogs and social media tended to focus on different topics. As EJO reported, Scott Maier published an 18-month research study, also based on the PEJ News Coverage Index, which examined 3,900 news stories to asses whether there is any difference between online news coverage and that of the legacy media.