Reader Ann asks me to comment on progress in Iraq, and the media's coverage, or lack, thereof.

I'm not really qualified to assess progress in Iraq; I know little about their political system, and less about military matters. I think economic progress is underreported; their infrastructure has either returned to, or exceeded, prewar measures, and by all reports is still rapidly improving. This matters a great deal, not only for quality of life, but because the more there is to destroy, the more stake people have in peace.

I can comment a little on the severe difficulties of news coverage in a war zone, particularly Iraq. It isn't safe, so reporters are limited mostly to Baghdad or embeds, which are not the whole story, and probably dramatically skew their perception of the situation; Baghdad is in the Sunni triangle. Also, someone recently pointed out something I hadn't thought of: most of the people who speak English in Iraq are Sunnis, privileged in the previous power structure. That is going to skew what people see. There's also the fact that bombings are dramatic, easy to see, instant; progress is slow and often hard to measure.

I don't think it's some sort of conspiracy. Journalism, like most things, is harder than it looks; without great care, it can go very wrong.

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