ABC Reports: Zarqawi Dead

Perhaps it’s because I’m on the West Coast, but immediately when the ‘Special Report’ music broke into Nightline, I thought for a second that I must be watching Saturday Night Live.

Of course, 11:35pm Nightline in L.A. plays 3 hours behind the East Coast, where, for some reason, ABC has broken through in all time zones with an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi special. Granted, I have visited the headquarters of other major networks and know that certain obituary pieces are pre-produced and ready to go (Gerald Ford, Nancy Reagan, to name a couple), but “Now with Zarqawi gone, the U.S. can claim a tangible victory in Iraq,” stated on tape by Brian Ross, seems a bit far-fetched.

Zarqawi had a 25 million dollar bounty on his head. Considering the “insurgency” and all, I find it hard to believe that the non-profit U.S. troops would have hauled in the prize.

This will keep me up for a few hours, nonetheless.

UPDATE: Iraq PM Nouri al-Maliki and Gen. Casey just announced the death of Zarqawi on Iraqi TV. He was killed in a U.S. military-led airstrike at a “safehouse” north of Baquba, 30 miles north of Baghdad and not far from a handful of horrific beheadings earlier this week. Christiane Amanpour, on CNN Pipeline, is saying that the applause that followed the announcement of Zarqawi’s death is reminiscent of the official announcement of the capture of Hussein.

Gen. Casey is quick to add, “this is just a step….” Here is a link to the AP report that will continue to update with details. Full press conference at 3pm Baghdad time, 5am here in Pacific Daylight Time.

Reporting in Iraq

The recent car bomb that took the lives of two CBS crew members and left correspondent Kim Dozier in critical condition has sparked, yet again, a conversation about reporting in Iraq.

Dozier and her crew were attacked on Memorial Day, while producing a piece about “fighting on in memory of those who have fallen,” according to an e-mail sent by Dozier to her colleagues that morning.

The LA Times’ Tim Rutten attempts to make sense of it all as best as anyone can.

I highly recommend reading this entry from Ms. Dozier on CBSNews.com, reprinted last week in the LA Times:

journalists face awful, dangerous risks in Iraq, more so than almost anyplace else on earth right now.

But it’s nothing compared to the people we cover.

Also, today the LA Times reports that a record 1,400 bodies were brought into the Baghdad Morgue in May.

Pew: Nearly 50 Million Create Own Web Content

Another great study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The Technology & Media Use report discloses that while “adoption of high-speed internet at home grew twice as fast in the year prior to March 2006 than in the same time frame from 2004 to 2005,” nearly 50 million Americans have posted their own content to the web.

At GigaOm, Robert Young believes that MySpace and other social-networking hubs are the primary reason for the uptick in user-generated content:

To some extent, self-expression should be viewed as a new industry, one that will co-exist alongside other traditional media industries like movies, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. But in this new industry, the raw materials for the ?products? are the people?

The Pew report also points out the disappearing digital divide. More web postings are generated from within household’s under the $50,000 income threshold, than above it.

VoIP set-ups like Skype and municipal broadband projects taken on by the likes of Earthlink are also breaking down big-money barriers to broadband.