The evidence from most surveys is that Americans are devoting much less attention to Afghanistan than they did in the initial phases of the Iraq war, and of those who do have an opinion, the majority believes that the war is not going well. There is no scenario put forward by the Obama administration, or anyone else for that matter, that predicts "victory" in the traditional sense. The best that can be forecast is a withdrawal of foreign forces at a time when Afghanistan can hold its own against the most brutal elements of Taliban control; resist al Qaeda, should it reassert its influence; and devise a modus vivendi with Pakistan, which has played so duplicitous a role in the conflict as an ally of American interests and a significant obstacle through its covert backing of extremists inside Afghanistan and in the tribal areas along the border.
So, given these facts, how well is the war being covered? Under the circumstances, after consulting with a number of correspondents, editors, and experts, I think reporters are doing their best with excruciating difficulty. The New York Times has the most extensive newspaper bureau, with five correspondents, a sizable Afghan staff around the country, and a security apparatus equal to what it maintained in Iraq (plus a full set-up in Pakistan). The Washington Post also has a permanent presence, with a resident correspondent in Afghanistan and Islamabad, and sends some of its experienced stars from Washington on regular forays. The Wall Street Journal has a bureau, and so does NPR. The Associated Press has probably the largest presence in the region across multiple digital and video platforms (to get a sample of their output, go to the AP website and plug "Afghanistan" into the search box). Among foreign news outlets, Reuters and the BBC seem to be the most active and effective in doing the Afghanistan-Pakistan straddle.
But strikingly diminished or absent altogether are correspondents from the major regional American newspapers that have all but eliminated their own foreign coverage; the network news bureaus (which I remember from Vietnam days as especially lavish) are miniscule. CNN has the largest team--a correspondent, producer, and cameraman. The news magazines also are barely visible on a regular basis. It is a measure of how much has changed in recent years that these fixtures of American journalism are so reduced in presence and impact.
The second major issue limiting coverage is logistics. Every correspondent emphasizes that getting around Afghanistan is incredibly hard. Road travel outside Kabul is extremely dangerous. With the exception of the forces stationed in Kabul, Bagram, and Kandahar, most American units are small and mobile, and embedding with them means assuming the same risks they take. Every story from the field is both complicated to arrange and highly dangerous to cover. The sense I get is that U.S. military sources in these conditions are more likely to be candid than they were in the formal settings of Iraq. Senior officials from Kabul and Washington are transported mainly by helicopter, and while access may be high level, everything is programmed to forestall the likelihood of an attack. So, all in all, as focus has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, it has become increasingly perilous to see first-hand what is happening, especially in the most contested regions of the south and the border areas with Pakistan.