Web news keeps pace with fast-moving Iraq situation

The internet has once again proved itself a mainstream medium for the instant coverage of major news events, with online...

The internet has once again proved itself a mainstream medium for the instant coverage of major news events, with online newspapers in most Asian countries posting minute-by-minute updates of the Iraq war.

Just minutes after the US "decapitation strike" aimed at Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was launched, newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, where it was early afternoon, began their reports.

Using news feeds from agencies, the Sydney Morning Herald led with "Missile reported launched against Baghdad", quickly updated to "Attack has begun, says Bush".

The Herald of New Zealand, a country which is opposed to the Iraq war, reported: "Explosions rock Baghdad as war begins."

The Daily Telegraph in the UK, where the time was 3am, began reporting "Saddam targeted as war breaks out" and its broadsheet rivals the Guardian and the Independent were also actively following events.

Most newspapers were relying on Reuters and Agence France-Presse reporters who had remained in Baghdad, who still seemed to have normal communications with the outside world.

In Singapore, where it was mid-morning when the first attacks were launched, the Straits Times used an AFP report headlined with a blunt "US launches war on Iraq".

In nearby Malaysia, the government news agency Berita Nasional Malaysia (Bernama) also took the AFP report for the lead story on its website. The Malaysia Star used an Associated Press report to lead its main web page.

The website of Taiwan's United Daily News carried a brief five-line report with the headline "Bush: US - British forces begin attack."

Taiwanese TV station ETTV's website offered a bit more information, carrying video, pictures and maps related to the attacks on Iraq by US and allied forces.

In China, the official People's Daily newspaper, ran updates on its website, with brief one-line updates on war-related developments around the world posted every minute or as events in Iraq unfolded. That coverage complemented other stories posted on People's Daily's Chinese-language website, including Chinese and English transcripts of US president George W Bush's address following the commencement of attacks on Baghdad.

Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun noted events with a somber "US, UK commence air assault on Iraq" and added news from prime minister Junichiro Koizumi announcing Japan's formal support for the war.

The Philippine Star ran a brief report noting that there are around 1.5 million Filipino workers in the Middle East who may be affected by the fighting between the US and Iraq.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper also covered the start of the war, drawing on its journalists in London and Washington to report "United States starts air raid on Baghdad".

Neither of Thailand's online dailies, the Bangkok Post and The Nation updated their sites quickly after the attack. The Bangkok Post noted that internet traffic and international phone calls had increased by 30%. The Nation led its page with a photograph of a tourist painting the slogan "No War" on the side of an elephant.

The Times of India was quick to report the news in a story supportive of the attack, headlining its report: "Operation to free Iraqis has begun: Bush."

Neither the Iraq Daily or the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) had updated their sites within three hours of the first attacks.

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