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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.

Implications of media practice

Two facts from the graph on the preceding page have particular implications for the IBC.

First, no one media source, even the most highly resourced, covered much more than half of the incidents reported throughout the media during this period. The most comprehensive coverage in the analysed timeframe was by Reuters, which contributed a report to 50% of all IBC incidents, and these incidents covered nearly 70% of all reported deaths as collected by IBC. A more typical score, even among the “high scoring” organisations, is around 25% for incidents and 40% for reported deaths.

An aggregator such as IBC is therefore required to knit the coverage together and weed out double counting.

Second, all media sources prioritise large-n incidents, In every case, commercial agencies report a greater proportion of deaths than of incidents, signalling a bias towards reporting those incidents where larger numbers were killed. This is presumably because, unless the death is of a prominent or significant individual, larger numbers are more newsworthy than smaller numbers.

IBC's work runs counter to this trend, paying equal attention to incidents of all sizes: we often spend hours tracking down corroboration of a single death. Our non-profit approach takes equal trouble over every victim.