Times Arrives Late to Good News on Plunging Violence in Iraq

All the other major newspapers either relayed the good news first or gave it more prominent play.

New figures from the U.S. military and Iraq's interior ministry found a sharp decrease in casualties for both Iraqi civilians and American troops during the month of October.

USA Today put the news on Page 5 of the front section Wednesday, while the L.A. Times led with it yesterday, albeit in a story packed with caveats.

The Washington Post gave it big play on Friday's front page: "In Iraq, a Lull or Hopeful Trend? Signs of Declining Violence Leave Residents, U.S. Commanders Cautious."

By comparison, the New York Times came both late to the story and underplayed it by waiting until Friday and placing the news on page A-12, stirred into a larger report by Alissa Rubin on the death of three soldiers in Diyala Province, the headline of which leavened the good news: "3 G.I.'s Die in Iraq's North; Baghdad Civilian Toll Falls."

"Three American soldiers died in attacks in northern Iraq, the military announced Thursday, while in troubled Diyala Province at least 14 Iraqis were killed in three incidents.

"Although violence persisted outside Baghdad, civilian casualties in the capital appeared to decline sharply recently, with 317 civilians killed in October. That was a drop of more than 50 percent from August, when 656 civilians were killed, according to statistics gathered by the Interior Ministry. As recently as May, 1,070 civilians were killed."

The MRC's Brent Baker has more on the disparate media coverage of falling casualty rates in Iraq.