Sunday, June 04, 2006

Reporters in Iraq

In the wake of last week's incident in Iraq that killed two CBS crew members and seriously injured Kimberly Dozier, CNN's Howard Kurtz addressed the issue of how dangerous Iraq has become for reporters trying to cover the war (more journalists have died covering this conflict than any other war in US history).

On today's CNN "Reliable Sources," Kurtz asked NBC's Richard Engel, who has been in Baghdad for three years covering the war, whether the conditions there are so dangerous that it leads to what some call "too heavy a focus on the violence in Iraq because it's very difficult to get out and cover, you know, what many ordinary Iraqis are doing?"

Engel's answer:

I think it's -- no, I wouldn't say that it is too difficult to go out and cover what ordinary Iraqis are doing. I was just last week at an Iraqi's home. I had to go in through the back door, but I stayed several hours. I was out this morning talking to Iraqi journalists. I was on a military base yesterday.

So we still do get out, and this perception that all the reporters in Baghdad are holed up in the Green Zone, I often -- people tell me that. "Oh, so you live in the Green Zone." They ask me when I meet them. He we don't live in the Green Zone. As far as I know, very, very few journalists actually live in the Green Zone. The vast majority live in what the people inside the Green Zone call the Red Zone. They won't even come here. So to get military officials or embassy officials to come where we are is almost impossible.

So we very definitely are more connected to the Iraqi street, certainly not as connected as we would like, but definitely more connected than certain people who work for the U.S. military, for the embassy are, and I think that's an important distinction. And if we lose that, then I really think it would be pointless for us to be here.
The segment also included interesting insight from Allen Pizzey of CBS and Jane Arraf (former CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief). Full transcript here.