Activists want area newspapers to print war data every day

Published 11:16 pm Friday, May 16, 2008

By Staff
Daily News asked to print statistics daily on the front
Staff Writer
Members of the local Grandmothers for Peace group want two eastern North Carolina newspapers to publish statistics regarding the war in Iraq on their front pages.
They would like the Washington Daily News and the Daily Reflector in Greenville to use their front pages to list “the current number of fallen U.S. troops, the number killed the previous day and the current cost in dollars of the Iraq occupation,” according to the petition. They want that information “boxed” so it is easily recognized by readers. To that end, they are circulating petitions in an effort to obtain support for their request. The group has not yet approached the Daily Reflector about its effort.
The media should make those statistics readily available to the public, according to Ann Cherry, a Grandmothers for Peace member. The group opposes the war in Iraq.
The organization believes television news outlets do not provide enough information on troop casualties and U.S. spending on the war. It also believes television news outlets do not do a good job of relating the war to issues stateside.
Some newspapers across the country are publishing statistics on troop casualties on a daily basis, according to Seibert.
The Washington Daily News has never received a petition of this nature, according to Ray McKeithan, general manager and associate publisher of the newspaper. McKeithan said he appreciates the effort undertaken by the organization.
McKeithan, who is aware of the petition drive, cautions that executive-level decisions at the paper are not based on pressures from outside forces.
The amount of money spent on the war also should be on the front page daily, according to Cherry.
Taxpayers in the state’s 1st Congressional District, which covers part of Beaufort County, will pay $783.6 million for the total Iraq war spending approved to date, according to the National Priorities Project’s Web site. Taxpayers in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers the remainder of Beaufort County, will pay upwards of $1 billion, according to the Web site.
Statistics on troop casualties will also have a profound impact on people in the region, according to Seibert.
Cherry believes the media should do more than cite statistics.
Seibert agreed.
Grandmothers for Peace started their petition drive March 19 to coincide with a peace vigil on the campus of East Carolina University.
Two separate petitions were made — one for the Washington Daily News and the other for the Daily Reflector. The petition to the Washington Daily News has more than 60 signatures so far.