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Many experts and expert groups from a range of fields are attempting to combine their knowledge to understand the lethality to Iraqis of the invasion and post-invasion violence in Iraq.

This is a slightly abridged and amended version of an invited "meta-analysis" of IBC's potential contribution to that understanding, presented in a closed meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on mortality estimates for Iraq, convened by WHO in Geneva, May 2007.

Completeness revisited, (c): Time between incident and first report

Why might some reports emerge when others do not?

One reason why some press and media reports might emerge, while others do not, is that the missed incidents are prevented from coming to light by physical or logistical hindrances. One such hindrance may be the geographical remoteness and inaccessibility of an incident: remote information may emerge only with difficulty, to the point where, from some location, it fails to emerge at all.

If so, then there should be a general relationship between locations and the time it takes for news to emerge from them. Possibly events in Baghdad should be reported more or less instantly, and remote areas only after various delays, ranging from minor to large (and finally “infinite,” ie., be unreported).

It might also be conjectured that reports which are somewhat delayed may also fail to be published because the media place a premium on immediacy, such that if a small event comes to light two or three days after it occurred, it may already be considered “not news worthy” and be “spiked” — that is, be ignored by local and international news agencies.

We can test the “news travelling slowly” hypothesis by seeing if there is a relationship between the location of an incident and the delay in the first published report of it. If the hypothesis is true, then Baghdad incidents should be the quickest to be reported, and remote rural towns should be the slowest.