Check out the bylines on the news-reports on the fighting in Basra and see if you can find any foreign reporters who are actually in the city they are writing about. The New York Times’s James Glanzer is filing from a compound in Baghdad. The BBC’s reporters are doing the same. Depending on phone calls to more or less reliable — or partis-pris — Iraqi stringers at the other end of the country, they might as well be filing from Amman or Tel Aviv or New York. It’s the usual complacency and dishonesty at work. On the other hand there’s something impressive about reporters who may never have never visited Basra — the country’s second city and an hour’s flight away — sounding authoritative about the place and its atmosphere . . . This is mainstream reporting on the Iraq war as it has evolved. It’s why the Michaels Totten and Yon are so important, and the milblogs, and the Iraqi blogs like Healing Iraq.