Iraq news coverage dwindles

By Kevin Berger

Published January 14, 2005 10:58PM (EST)

The international spotlight on the Iraq debacle is shrinking daily, reports news agency, Agence France Presse. Tyranny of the press, in this case, is the widespread threat of violence to journalists, certain to thin out the coverage of the upcoming Iraq election. "News editors point out that correspondents in Baghdad cannot leave their hotel rooms without incurring major risks. The United States is organizing military escorts so that journalists can cover the election, but this also would restrict their freedom of action."

Many papers have brought their reporters home, including Russia's three major news agencies, and others have stationed only their most seasoned war correspondents in areas for brief periods. "Those based in the capital do their best to merge into the background, like Germany's Stern magazine correspondent, who speaks fluent Arabic and has grown a beard, or Stephen Farrell, The [London] Times Middle East correspondent, who wears both a beard and a keffiyah," notes Agence France Presse. "Despite such precautions, Farrell said he 'almost never' appears on the street unless he's on the way to a meeting pre-arranged with Iraqis who can be trusted."

Meanwhile, "those who remain in Baghdad have learned to take extraordinary precautions, like traveling in separate automobiles, keeping in touch via walkie-talkies using code words and taking a backup car for security. Yet the bottom line, said Farrell, is that 'if the mainstream Sunni resistance wanted journalists dead, we would all have been dead or kidnapped months ago. And the only reason that we're operating is that they want us to operate.'"

Kevin Berger

Kevin Berger is the former features editor at Salon.

MORE FROM Kevin Berger

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room