.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hotel Journalism

You might not notice it, but at the bottom of every New York Times article that carries a Baghdad dateline something like this appears:

Reporting for this article was contributed by Ali Adeeb, Khalid al-Ansary, Thaier Aldaami and Omar Osama from Baghdad, Fakher Haider from Basra, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Kirkuk, Mosul and Najaf.

What does this mean? It means the New York Times reporters, like most western news organizations "reporting from Baghdad", never really ventured out of their fortified hotel room to actually report on what's happening. They instead relied on local reporters who have the guts (and probably the appearance) to "safely" walk and report from the streets of Baghdad. That's why I find it so hard to read these articles. They quote all these people they never really interviewed themselves.

Robert Fisk, one of the few western journalists who does his own street reporting describes it best:

I head off to the Palestine Hotel where one of the largest Western news agencies has its headquarters. I take the lift to an upper floor only to be met by a guard and a vast steel wall which blocks off the hotel corridor. He searches me, sends in my card and after a few minutes an Iraqi guard stares at me through a grille and opens an iron door.

I enter to find another vast steel wall in front of me. Once he has clanged the outer door shut, the inner door is opened and I am in the grotty old hotel corridor.

The reporters are sitting in a fuggy room with a small window from which they can see the Tigris river. One of the American staff admits he has not been outside "for months". An Arab reporter does their street reporting; an American travels around Iraq - but only as an "embed" with US troops. No American journalists from this bureau travel the streets of Baghdad. This is not hotel journalism, as I once described it. This is prison journalism.

I don't want to be a reporter in Baghdad right now, so I can't really say I blame them.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?