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Saturday, June 17, 2006


Smart Marketing Heralds Great Iraq Article

-By Warner Todd Huston

For those of you interested in the growth and development of the Internet or new trends thereon, I just got something that seems somewhat new as a way to advertise a journalist's latest article. Well, it may not be entirely "new" but it is something not seen to date from the higher profile journalists to my knowledge.

Michael Fumento, writer for the Weekly Standard, has written a rip-roaring piece on his experience in Ramadi, Iraq. This is an article not to be missed. Fumento was in the thick of it and saw some intense action during his visit with the 101st Airborne, the unit famously dubbed "the Band of Brothers" by historian Stephen Ambrose for its service in WWII.

Before I get any further into Fumento's experiences, though, I'd like to give him kudos for realizing the power and reach of the Internet in this day and age.

Logging in to my email service, I found an email coming from a Michael Fumento. I knew the name, but wasn't immediately connecting it to the nationally know writer. After all, we don't exactly run in the same circles. He hangs out with famous Washington notables and I hang out waiting for my 10 year-old to get out of grade school.

After reading it and realizing that it did, indeed, purport to come from the writer, I emailed him to ascertain if it was really from him or if it was from some spammer trying to get my address identified. He quickly responded to say that it really WAS from him. He explained that he had emailed a few bloggers in an attempt to "Pitch" (his word) his Ramadi story. I think this is a good idea. Certainly I have seen writers and bloggers a tad lower on the journalism food chain than Fumento send out such emails, but I have never seen a writer who has had as much national exposure as Fumento doing so.

I think he recognizes how important bloggers and Internet writers are becoming and he sees an important avenue to get his work to more people.

Good on you, Mr. Fumento! Good on you for not pretending you are better than those lowly bloggers at whom so many other journalists turn up their nose. Fumento gets the nod for smart marketing in this electronic age.

And, let's face it; writing is not a profession where people will usually beat down your door trying to enlist you for the service of your pen. All writers spend time in self-promotion, even as it seems a bit "unseemly" in the doing. For that matter, all artists -- painters, singers, sculptors, et al -- are on a constant trail of self-promotion. It is just the way of life whether we who attempt to create like it or not.

So, I give Fumento props for perhaps swallowing a bit of pride and sending out these emails. Ya can't say it didn't work... he got ME to the keyboard!

In any case, smart writers will emulate Fumento's efforts to get the word out!

Now, to the Ramadi piece:

What an amazing stay Fumento had in Ramadi. This article reads so fast that one finds himself surprised that it filled 8 full pages in the current Weekly Standard.

The men of the 101 are heroes in the fullest definition of the word. Doing things that even a large portion of the rest of our troops in Iraq are not asked to do, and doing it with fewer resources and backup to boot.

Ramadi is truly one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq and our boys there are daily under fire. On every patrol they expend ammunition, and every day they receive fire from the terrorist insurgents surrounding their base.

One of the most important parts of Fumento's piece is where he briefly illuminates why our boys are there. As Fumento rolls on with his description of the intense violence in Ramadi, one wonders (as did Fumento) why we don't just launch a Falluja style, overwhelming attack to wipe out the terrorists in Ramadi.

This would be a bad idea, however. Fumento explains:

"...remember that it was the Falluja fight that made Ramadi what it is today. Do we want to draw in jihadists (into Ramadi) and gradually kill them or simply scatter them again and let them take up residence elsewhere in the Anbar desert?"

I wish Fumento had spent a tad more time on this point. It is very, very important to understand. Still, he had a great tale to tell and policy issues were not really the point of the piece.

As Fumento mentions, most journalists stay rather safe and sound near the Green Zone in Baghdad, rarely emerging from their comfortable hotel rooms there. Their practice to get the story of the day is to send Iraqi citizens, called "stringers", to go out and get the story. American journalists then slap their name upon the gathered “facts” for that all-important "from Baghdad" by line. With this practice, they could be here in the states filing their stories because they don't really do much reporting from the site of the real story.

By the way, if you'll research it, the bulk of journalists killed in Iraq -- and the number is considerable -- have NOT been American journalists. The distinction here is that other journalists are taking more chances than American journalists do, making most American journalists work based far less on first hand observations than their foreign colleagues'. Fumento busted that practice, for sure.

So, go to the Weekly Standard website – or better yet, buy a copy at the newsstand – and read this piece. It comes recommended, at least from this reader.
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