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Monday, December 10, 2007


Reporters in the Middle East, II

Just the other day I mentioned McClatchy's Baghdad bureau chief, Leila Fadel. Editor & Publisher has a very interesting article (hat tip the invaluable Cursor) today which profiles Fadel. Fadel became bureau chief at age 25. Here's what she faced:
"It was a difficult first month," admits Fadel, who had covered Iraq on three previous rotations starting in June 2005. She had already been through a lot. Seven days into her first rotation, the bureau's well-regarded translator, Yasser Salihee, was killed by American soldiers who mistook him for a suicide bomber; a week into her second rotation, the bureau's hotel was bombed.
And this, a description of her by a colleague, is why McClatchy's reporting is often noticeably different from that from the larger corporate news organizations:
"She is always out there talking to Iraqis -- regular people as well as political and religious leaders. ... When I read her stories, I feel like I'm reading the stories that Iraqis would like people to hear. That isn't something that always comes through in conflict reporting, where there often is a tendency to focus on men in suits and uniforms."
It is possible to do "Dahr Jamail-like" reporting for the corporate media. It's just not common, and you're not guaranteed that your editors will actually print what you write.

Update: Readers may find this, from Cairo bureau chief Hannah Allam's blog, interesting:

The young men are among a handful of Americans who play for sports teams in the Middle East...As luck would have it, I sat next to one of the American players, Marvin, who folded his 6'7" frame into the tiny EgyptAir seat. He pulled two books from his backpack, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and a Noam Chomsky commentary on imperialism.

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