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BOSTON - G|oba|Post |s redefn|ng |nternat|ona| news |n
the d|g|ta| age, but we are o|d schoo| when |t comes to
'GroundTruth: G|oba|post`s F|e|d Gu|de for Oorrespondents"
|s ded|cated to putt|ng some of these standards |n wr|t|ng.
The F|e|d Gu|de offers a way to share our po||c|es,
pract|ces and |mportant |essons |earned |n the fe|d w|th
our correspondents, co|umn|sts and contr|butors.
ln th|s updated 2012 ed|t|on of the F|e|d Gu|de, we have
made a few refnements based on your suggest|ons and our
exper|ence as ed|tors. Th|s year, we have two new essays
that te|| the story of perhaps the s|ng|e most traumat|c
exper|ence for G|oba|Post |n three years of operat|on: The
capture of G|oba|Post`s James Fo|ey |n ||bya on Apr|| 5.
Th|s |s a work|ng document, the same way your
d|spatches from the fe|d are a rough draft of h|story.
There |s a revo|ut|on go|ng on |n med|a r|ght now. At
G|oba|Post, we are |n |ts tumu|t and we |ove be|ng there.
lt`s tru|y an exc|t|ng t|me. So we be||eve |t smart and
necessary to keep our eyes w|de open to new and perhaps
better ways of carry|ng out the craft of report|ng and the
art of storyte|||ng even as we carefu||y adhere to trad|t|ona|
be||efs |n the |mportance of accuracy and fa|rness.
Th|s |s the fourth year of our F|e|d Gu|de s|nce we |aunched
the webs|te |n January, 2009. And through th|s gu|de, we
want to create a commun|ty of correspondents - decorated
veterans, m|d-career profess|ona|s and younger reporters
|ook|ng for the|r frst shot at a fore|gn post|ng. And we want
th|s to be a p|ace where they can share the|r |ns|ghts and
stor|es and |earn from each other |n th|s chang|ng env|ron-
ment for journa||sm.
To that end, we have co||ected essays a|ong the way from
correspondents connected to G|oba|Post. Th|s year, the new
essays are by G|oba|Post correspondent !"#$%&'()$* and
G|oba|Post OEO and co-founder +,-)-.&/0&1")2(3-. Fo|ey
recounts the ordea| of h|s capture |n ||bya and about |earn|ng
the hard way just how |mportant |t |s to step back and care-
fu||y assess the s|tuat|on on the ground before head|ng out
to the front||nes. Ba|bon| te||s the |ns|de story of how our
news organ|zat|on went about mak|ng sure a correspondent
|n troub|e got home safe|y, and how we at G|oba|Post have
tr|ed to use the exper|ence as a way to re-affrm a cu|ture of
safety for our correspondents around the wor|d.
Other essays |nc|uded |n th|s co||ect|on are: G|oba|Post
co|umn|st 45/&67$$38"* about h|s near|y 50 years of work
|n fore|gn news; G|oba|Post Afghan|stan Bureau Oh|ef !$"3&
9":;$3<-$ on |essons |earned |n a tough year |n Afghan|-
stan; G|oba|Post ed|tor-at-|arge /$2"%=-"3&!>3?$7 on pract|-
ca| adv|ce that keeps you a||ve cover|ng conf|ct; G|oba|Post
Moscow correspondent 9-7-"#&@)A$7 d|scuss|ng the per||s
of report|ng |n Russ|a; G|oba|Post Deputy Manag|ng Ed|tor
B3A7$8&9$)A7># on cover|ng and ||v|ng the story of Z|m-
babwe for 23 years; the BBO`s /-#(3&C-)%(3 shares what
he |earned from the Gaza k|dnapp|ng of a co||eague; G|o-
ba|Post`s contr|but|ng correspondent !"3$&B77"D prov|des a
woman`s perspect|ve on cover|ng the war |n lraq; and G|oba|-
Post correspondent-at-|arge 9"==&9:B))$%=$7 se|f effac|ng
|ook back on h|s report|ng from Fa||ujah.
We recogn|ze that G|oba|Post correspondents are free|ancers
and we want to encourage and foster a sense of commun|ty,
a fee||ng of camarader|e that |s too often m|ss|ng from the
wonderfu||y |ndependent but somet|mes |so|at|ng ||fe of a
free|ancer, part|cu|ar|y |n the d|g|ta| age.
We want to hear from those of you |n the fe|d about how
we can work together to create a new vo|ce |n |nternat|ona|
news, a vo|ce that |s consc|ous|y attent|ve to an Amer|can au-
d|ence. We do not mean that we w||| be |n any way j|ngo|st|c
or nat|ona||st|c. Nor do we want to |mp|y that our stor|es w|||
on|y focus on |ssues that affect Amer|ca or |nvo|ve Amer|can
|nterests. The wor|d |s much too |arge a p|ace for that.
We are |ook|ng for reporters who can te|| the k|nds of stor|es
that resonate w|th an Amer|can aud|ence as we|| as a g|oba|
aud|ence. We want wr|t|ng, photography and v|deography
that has a good ear for the mus|c of Amer|ca. And u|t|mate|y,
we want stor|es that en||ghten a|| of us about the wor|d |n
wh|ch we ||ve.
lf we are consc|ous|y p|ay|ng to an Amer|can aud|ence, |t |s
because we be||eve Amer|ca, desp|te |ts exert|on of m|||tary
and econom|c power |n the wor|d, |s dramat|ca||y under-
served |n |nternat|ona| news. We be||eve the pauc|ty of
Amer|can venues for |nternat|ona| news |s a dangerous b||nd
spot for the country, and one that often has a w|der |mpact
on the wor|d. That`s why we have set out to try our best to
f|| the vo|d |eft by so many Amer|can ma|nstream newspa-
pers, magaz|nes and te|ev|s|on networks who`ve chosen to
cut back and |n many cases abandon the m|ss|on to cover
We`d ||ke to hear from you about other |ssues that shou|d
be addressed |n th|s manua| for a new generat|on of fore|gn
correspondents. But most of a||, we want to be c|ear about
the s|mp|e, t|me-tested va|ues |n wh|ch we be||eve and
wh|ch we expect to see carr|ed out by our correspondents.
That |s, we be||eve |n fa|rness. We be||eve |n accuracy. We
be||eve the best report|ng comes from good o|d-fash|oned
shoe |eather. We be||eve |n ||sten|ng and a||ow|ng yourse|f to
be conv|nced by a po|nt of v|ew you may not have cons|d-
ered before. We be||eve good reporters do more than mere|y
present two s|des of an |ssue, they unearth facts and then
cons|der a|| s|des |n a way that he|ps create a new under-
stand|ng of the k|nds of comp|ex |ssues that we face g|oba||y.
We be||eve |n g|v|ng vo|ce to the vo|ce|ess. We be||eve |n
respect for d|fferent fa|ths and cu|tures and ways of see|ng
the wor|d. We be||eve humor |s a good way to get at truth,
but we have |ess t|me for |aughs at someone e|se`s expense.
We be||eve |n connect|ng the dots and say|ng someth|ng
|mportant w|thout resort|ng to the k|nd of rab|d|y op|n|onated
report|ng that |s c|utter|ng too much of the a|rwaves and
ln the end of the day, we have fa|th |n you, our team |n the
fe|d, to embrace these standards and to go out and fnd
great stor|es that make for great journa||sm.
– BY CHARLES M. SENNOTT,
Executive Editor and co-founder
lt`s a|| about be|ng there.
There are few va|ues that G|oba|Post ho|ds h|gher than
hav|ng correspondents who ||ve |n the p|ace about wh|ch
they wr|te, and who know |ts |anguage and cu|ture.
Many of you are nat|ve speakers or fuent a|ready. And for
those of you who are not, we eager|y encourage you to
study the |anguage of the p|aces |n wh|ch you are report|ng.
We be||eve fore|gn report|ng requ|res you to be a frst-hand
observer of the events unfo|d|ng |n the country you cover.
We be||eve that the strength of G|oba|Post w||| be hav|ng a
breadth of coverage by reporters w|th an ear to the ground.
We are |ook|ng for the k|nd of author|tat|ve report|ng that can
on|y come from a reporter who |s ||v|ng the story.
We ca|| th|s ground truth. lt`s an |mportant |dea at G|oba|Post
and 'GroundTruth" |s not on|y the t|t|e of th|s F|e|d Gu|de,
but a|so of my b|og that h|gh||ghts your da||y report|ng from
So what does 'GroundTruth" mean?
lt has a pretty obv|ous and |ntu|t|ve mean|ng. You may have
heard |t |n a m|||tary context. But |ts or|g|n, as best we can te||,
|s a prec|se phrase used |n d|g|ta| techno|ogy that was co|ned
by NASA. Th|s |s how NASA defnes |t on |ts webs|te:
'Ground truth (n} . one part of the ca||brat|on process.
Th|s |s where a person on the ground makes a measurement
of the same th|ng a sate|||te |s try|ng to measure at the same
t|me the sate|||te |s measur|ng |t. The two answers are then
compared to he|p eva|uate how we|| the sate|||te |nstrument
|s perform|ng. Üsua||y we be||eve the ground truth more
than the sate|||te."
ln other words, GroundTruth |s a sc|ent|fc be||ef that
the greatest ca||brat|on of what |s happen|ng |n a far-off
p|ace |s best ach|eved by be|ng there on the ground
to w|tness |t and record |t.
As a web-based news organ|zat|on, we recogn|ze that even
|n the d|g|ta| age when we have access to |nformat|on from
a|| over the wor|d at our fngert|ps and sate|||te transm|ss|ons
that can focus on |mages thousands of m||es away, the most
trusted read|ng |s st||| made by those human be|ngs who are
there w|tness|ng the events and measur|ng h|story ||ve.
lt sounds ||ke a s|mp|e |dea. But |t`s not so easy when the
ground you are on |s a sh|ft|ng, comp|ex story that requ|res
know|edge about and a deep background on the forces
shap|ng the news. We have reporters who do th|s |n the
p|aces where there |s ongo|ng conf|ct ||ke lraq and Afghan|-
stan; |n p|aces where there |s a contrad|ctory m|x of poverty
and opportun|ty ||ke lnd|a and Braz||; where there are anc|ent
cu|tures to understand |n a modern context from Oh|na to
the Andes. Our correspondents w||| be there on the ground
equ|pped w|th the know|edge that |s needed to |nterpret the
events |n a way that a||ow v|s|tors to the s|te to tru|y see and
understand what |s happen|ng, why |t |s happen|ng, and what
Th|s |s not a new |dea by any means. lt |s just good,
But these days we be||eve there |s too much d|stant ana|ys|s
- not on|y at news organ|zat|ons but a|so at |nternat|ona|
bus|nesses and even |n m|||tary and nat|ona| secur|ty
organ|zat|ons - by those who are too far removed
from the ground.
Those who ana|yze from on h|gh are on|y one part of the
ca||brat|on process |n understand|ng a comp|ex wor|d.
They are ||ke the sate|||te v|ew|ng the |mage from afar,
and we want to be that opt|c on the ground te|||ng
you what |t rea||y |ooks ||ke.
NASA states |n |ts own defn|t|on, 'we be||eve
the ground truth more than the sate|||te."
So do we.
We recogn|ze that the wor|d has never been a more
dangerous p|ace for reporters to pract|ce the pr|nc|p|e
of ground truth.
More than 1,200 members of news organ|zat|ons,
|nc|ud|ng journa||sts, trans|ators, and fxers have been
k|||ed |n the |ast decade, accord|ng to the lnternat|ona| News
Safety lnst|tute wh|ch |s track|ng the data. (ln 2010, approx|-
mate|y two journa||sts were k|||ed on average each week.}
These journa||sts have been k|||ed |n the cross fres of conf|ct,
they have been targeted for murder for report|ng stor|es that
someone d|d not want to|d, and they`ve d|ed just ||ke count-
|ess thousands of other |nnocent v|ct|ms of conf|ct from
random she|||ng or road s|de bombs or for dr|v|ng too fast
|n a dangerous sett|ng.
Aware of these per||s to report|ng, we want to have a
c|ear set of gu|de||nes for how to operate safe|y |n the
fe|d. To that end, we can prov|de at your request a set
of documents by var|ous organ|zat|ons wh|ch offer sound
adv|ce on cover|ng conf|ct and report|ng |n potent|a||y
They |nc|ude the fo||ow|ng: 'On Ass|gnment: Oover|ng Oonf|ct
Safe|y" by the Oomm|ttee to Protect Journa||sts; 'K||||ng the
Messenger" by the lnternat|ona| News Safety lnst|tute; 'A
Surv|va| Gu|de for Journa||sts" by the lnternat|ona| Federat|on
of Journa||sts and Traged|es and 'Journa||sts" by the Dart
Oenter for Journa||sm and Trauma. For those of you report|ng
|n host||e env|ronments, l strong|y encourage you to get aho|d
of these documents and read through them carefu||y. They
are great references. They offer the k|nd of pract|ca| adv|ce
that can save your ||fe and save the ||ves of co||eagues and
support staff around you. They do a better job than we cou|d
|n spe|||ng out how to work on a dangerous ass|gnment and
we expect you to heed the|r recommendat|ons. A pr|mary
recommendat|on that each of these organ|zat|ons make |s
for c|ear commun|cat|on w|th ed|tors about your wherea-
bouts and to never enter |nto a story w|thout a game p|an
for stay|ng |n touch. We want to be c|ear that no G|oba|Post
correspondent shou|d ever go on an ass|gnment - part|cu|ar|y
a dangerous one - w|thout pr|or approva| from a sen|or G|o-
ba|Post ed|tor. And when on such an ass|gnment, constant
contact |s requ|red.
v|rtua||y a|| of these organ|zat|ons a|so recommend host||e
env|ronment tra|n|ng for reporters cover|ng conf|ct. We are
||sten|ng to these spec|fc recommendat|ons as we|| and
|mp|ement|ng them as po||cy. (For those of you report|ng |n
host||e env|ronments part|cu|ar|y where hostage tak|ng |s a
poss|b|||ty, more prec|se terms of our po||c|es can be made
ava||ab|e and shou|d be d|scussed w|th your ed|tor.}
Be a listener.
We be||eve strong|y that the greatest correspondents
hear as many s|des of an |ssue as poss|b|e before
they beg|n wr|t|ng or produc|ng mu|t|med|a.
The most memorab|e stor|es are the ones that surpr|se
us, that contravene our preconcept|ons. And we be||eve
those stor|es come from ||sten|ng carefu||y to the commun|ty
you are cover|ng. They come from be|ng fa|r and report|ng
w|thout b|as. Most of a||, they come from ||sten|ng.
We encourage you to g|ve vo|ce to the vo|ce|ess. There |s
a b|g wor|d out there and too often our news |s shaped by
po||t|c|ans and d|p|omats and offc|a|s. Of course, the|r pro-
nouncements from press conferences and embassy br|efngs
matter and affect ||ves and we need them |n our stor|es. But
the best report|ng |s the k|nd of report|ng that comes up from
the street that |nc|udes the vo|ces of the peop|e who stand to
be affected by the dec|s|ons of the powerfu|.
lt |s a customary pract|ce |n report|ng these days, but back
|n the ear|y 1960`s when the |egendary New York O|ty
co|umn|st J|mmy Bres||n was wr|t|ng for the New York Da||y
News he broke new ground by ||sten|ng and g|v|ng vo|ce to
the peop|e he knew from the streets of New York. ln perhaps
h|s most v|v|d express|on of th|s sty|e of report|ng, Bres||n
covered the 1963 state funera| of John F. Kennedy. Am|d the
d|gn|tar|es, the heads of state, and the somber we|ght of the
moment |n h|story, Bres||n |nterv|ewed the man whose job |t
was to d|g the d|tch where the fa||en pres|dent`s casket wou|d
be |owered |nto the earth. ln the par|ance of a New York O|ty
newsroom, |t`s now known as a 'graved|gger story." lt`s the
story about the ||tt|e guy that te||s us what we need to know
about a b|g moment |n h|story.
Th|s may fee| o|d hat to a reporter who has worked |n a news-
room |n the |ast 20 years. But we are aware at G|oba|Post
that there |s a new generat|on of |nternat|ona| correspondents
com|ng of age who have not a|ways had that exper|ence. And
|f a young journa||st were to on|y get the|r news on||ne or to
watch cab|e news coverage of many |ssues today, they may
not understand these va|ues at a||. So apo|og|es to veterans
here and a p|ea to correspondents who are newer to the craft
to br|ng th|s sp|r|t of ||sten|ng to your work.
Be fair and accurate.
Out of carefu| ||sten|ng comes fa|r, truthfu| report|ng.
And truth |s a|ways the best defense aga|nst ||be|.
Oheck the facts a|| the t|me. Oheck spe|||ng, part|cu|ar|y the
spe|||ng of names and be sure you have the proper t|t|e of a
source. We are emp|oy|ng the AP Sty|ebook. G|oba|Post has
a|so deve|oped a forma| po||cy for correct|ons and c|ar|fca-
t|ons on the s|te, wh|ch |s |nc|uded |n th|s manua|. Any cor-
respondent whose work requ|res pers|stent correct|ons on
|ssues of mater|a| fact, w||| be warned that the|r re|at|onsh|p
w|th G|oba|Post w||| be term|nated |f a pattern of |naccurate
Accuracy matters and our reputat|on as a news organ|zat|on
and your reputat|on as a correspondent re|y on gett|ng |t r|ght.
There |s a great ax|om of dead||ne report|ng: When |n doubt,
|eave |t out. ||ve by that. On|y wr|te about the th|ngs you
know, the th|ngs you`ve seen w|th your own eyes and be sure
you have c|ear and accurate attr|but|on on everyth|ng e|se. lf
you ||ve by these re|at|ve|y s|mp|e and stra|ghtforward ru|es,
you w||| a|ways be on so||d foot|ng.
We d|scourage the use of unnamed sources. We be||eve
|t |s far better to get a comment on the record. We encour-
age correspondents to a|ways try the|r best to get a name
attached to a comment. Somet|mes |t requ|res ask|ng more
than once, but pers|stence |s better than accept|ng a b||nd
quote and fnd|ng out |ater |t |s unusab|e.
We understand that there are c|rcumstances |n wh|ch
anonym|ty |s necessary to protect the ||fe or ||ve||hood of a
source, but that |s the on|y occas|on |n wh|ch unnamed
sources shou|d be used. G|oba|Post reta|ns the r|ght to
request a reporter to share w|th a sen|or ed|tor any
unnamed source of a story.
G|oba|Post a|so forb|ds any reporter from wr|t|ng on a story
|n wh|ch they have a vested econom|c |nterest or a c|ear
po||t|ca| b|as. The sp|r|t of fu|| d|sc|osure matters |n report|ng
and we request that you |et us know |f you be||eve there |s
any potent|a| ||ne that m|ght be crossed dur|ng the course
of your report|ng.
We are aware that our correspondents operate |n many
corners of the wor|d where there are d|fferent |ega| standards
for journa||sm and d|fferent |deas about what const|tutes
fa|rness. But we ho|d to a very Amer|can trad|t|on of journa|-
|sm |n th|s regard and one that we be||eve |s a proud trad|t|on.
Our research shows |ega| precedent |s be|ng estab||shed
that on||ne news organ|zat|ons w||| be he|d to the |ega| stand-
ards of report|ng |n the country from wh|ch they or|g|nate,
wh|ch for us, of course, |s the Ün|ted States. As the Ün|ted
States has perhaps the most ferce protect|ons of freedom of
the press of any country |n the wor|d, we be||eve that good,
honest, accurate and fa|r report|ng from any p|ace |n the
wor|d w||| a|ways put us on so||d |ega| ground. (G|oba|Post
has a standard ||be| |nsurance po||cy, wh|ch offers protect|ons
for the organ|zat|on. lf anyone has quest|ons about the po||cy,
we w||| make ourse|ves ava||ab|e.} lf you are ever work|ng on
a story that you be||eve |s potent|a||y ||be|ous or |f any one you
are report|ng on threatens any |ega| act|on, you are ob||ged to
get |n touch w|th your ed|tor prompt|y and d|rect|y.
Be sure you are accred|ted as a journa||st and work w|th|n
the gu|de||nes set by the press offce |n your respect|ve
country. A|ways |dent|fy yourse|f as a reporter when you
are work|ng |n the fe|d.
Any fabr|cat|on of quotes or made-up report|ng w||| not be
to|erated and w||| be cons|dered grounds for G|oba|Post to
|mmed|ate|y end |ts re|at|onsh|p w|th a correspondent. The
same proh|b|t|ons on fabr|cat|on ho|d true for mu|t|med|a.
And G|oba|Post forb|ds the man|pu|at|on of any photos,
aud|o or v|deo |n a manner that d|storts rea||ty or
m|srepresents any facts or quotes.
P|ag|ar|sm of any k|nd w||| a|so be grounds for term|nat|ng
a contract w|th G|oba|Post. P|ag|ar|sm |nc|udes not on|y
d|rect|y copy|ng someone e|se`s words, but |t can a|so
|nc|ude heavy borrow|ng of quotes, |deas, |mages and
|ns|ghts w|thout proper attr|but|on.
We recogn|ze that most of you out there |n the fe|d are
free|ancers who must jugg|e work|ng for severa| d|fferent
out|ets. We ask that you be fa|r and honest w|th us when
you are ba|anc|ng these somet|mes compet|ng |nterests. lf
you have offered a story to another pub||cat|on, we request
that you |nform us of that up front. We a|ways want the story
frst and we a|ways want |t exc|us|ve|y. We wou|dn`t be much
of a news organ|zat|on, |f we d|dn`t. That sa|d, of course, |t
wou|d be unfa|r for us to demand comp|ete |oya|ty and tota|
exc|us|v|ty |n a commun|ty of free|ancers. We know you have
to make a ||v|ng. And we be||eve the s|mp|est, best way to
avo|d any prob|ems |n th|s area |s through a re|at|onsh|p that
|s based on c|ear commun|cat|on and mutua| trust. And that
means we want to trust that the stor|es you are wr|t|ng for us
are not appear|ng somewhere e|se, and that your work for
G|oba|Post |s un|que. At t|mes, we know you w||| re|y on the
report|ng and quotes you`ve gathered |n the fe|d to wr|te for
mu|t|p|e out|ets. But, aga|n, you are ob||ged to be sure that
the stor|es are substant|a||y rewr|tten |f you are offer|ng them
to us for payment.
G|oba|Post reporters shou|d not accept g|fts or any payment
from a source |nvo|ved |n a story, nor shou|d they offer any
g|fts or payment |n return for gett|ng a story.
Any t|me a correspondent or co|umn|sts |s prov|ded trave|
or |odg|ng as part of a report|ng tr|p, th|s shou|d be d|scussed
|n advance w|th an ed|tor. Typ|ca||y, we w||| not perm|t such
tr|ps. But there are except|ons when G|oba|Post be||eves |t
w|se and somet|mes necessary to accept free f|ghts on
|nternat|ona| a|d and trade m|ss|ons or m|||tary f|ghts. We
may a|so, for examp|e, a||ow our g|oba| hea|th or techno|ogy
wr|ters to take an expense-pa|d tr|p by an |ndustry group as
|ong as the correspondent has c|ear|y estab||shed w|th h|s or
her host that none of the serv|ces-|n-k|nd w||| |nfuence the
outcome of the report|ng. lf G|oba|Post does accept such a
tr|p, we w||| |et v|s|tors to the s|te know so they have fu|| trans-
parency and can judge for themse|ves |f any undue |nfuence
has crept |n to the coverage as a resu|t. We the ed|tors w||| be
work|ng very hard to be sure |t does not.
ln 2011, G|oba|Post |aunched a non-proft |n|t|at|ve for some
areas of coverage, such as human r|ghts and g|oba| hea|th
report|ng. ln 2010, G|oba|Post began to undertake severa|
corporate sponsorsh|ps for content, |nc|ud|ng a ser|es on
educat|on and another on energy entrepreneurs. We be||eve
th|s k|nd of non-proft fund|ng and corporate sponsorsh|p
can prov|de va|uab|e opportun|t|es for G|oba|Post to do good
work. But we a|so recogn|ze that there |s a need to be trans-
parent about these partnersh|ps and v|g||ant |n ma|nta|n|ng
our ed|tor|a| |ndependence. Toward that end, we have drafted
gu|de||nes for standards and pract|ces for a|| such support of
ed|tor|a| projects. ln a nutshe||, the standards revo|ve around
one gu|d|ng pr|nc|p|e. That |s, we w||| ma|nta|n comp|ete
ed|tor|a| |ndependence and contro| |n any such re|at|onsh|p
w|th a foundat|on, |nd|v|dua| or corporat|on that |s fund|ng,
underwr|t|ng or sponsor|ng ed|tor|a| content.
Be on time and be in touch.
We are a sma|| company w|th a g|oba| m|ss|on.
ln an average month, G|oba|Post has about 100
correspondents contr|but|ng to the s|te from at |east
50 d|fferent countr|es. So we have a spraw||ng enterpr|se
that cou|d eas||y come undone |f our correspondents
do not st|ck to a|| dead||nes.
ln a reorgan|zat|on of our news coverage |n the summer and
fa|| of 2010, we have estab||shed d|fferent |eve|s of engage-
ment w|th correspondents around the wor|d and moved away
from a 'cook|e cutter" approach. That means each of you
have d|fferent expectat|ons for what you are to de||ver on a
regu|ar bas|s to your ed|tor.
But there are defn|te|y some core expectat|ons. That |s
that p|tches w||| be made to respect|ve reg|ona| ed|tors and
when they are agreed upon they are ass|gned a dead||ne for
de||very. Stor|es are to be de||vered on t|me to your respec-
t|ve ed|tor. Mak|ng dead||ne |s cr|t|ca|. We accept that rea||ty
changes, that stor|es somet|mes don`t pan out, that a better
break|ng story comes a|ong. Th|s w||| |nev|tab|y happen. But
when such c|rcumstances occur, a correspondent must
commun|cate a change |n game p|an w|th h|s or her ed|tor.
Oommun|cat|on |s key. G|oba|Post understands that
free|anc|ng |s |arge|y for the free-sp|r|ted. We do not expect
you to be bound to us or to a da||y schedu|e |n the way a
staff correspondent wou|d be. But we do expect to be ab|e
to reach you |n the event of an emergency or a s|gn|fcant
break|ng news story. So p|ease be sure that we a|ways have
your updated contact |nformat|on. We do expect that you w|||
|et us know when you are p|ann|ng a vacat|on. And we ex-
pect you w||| e|ther prov|de some features that w||| t|e us over
|n your absence or that you w||| he|p us fnd a su|tab|e
correspondent to f|| |n wh||e you`re gone.
lf a correspondent cons|stent|y m|sses dead||nes or fa||s
to stay |n contact w|th us, they w||| be g|ven a warn|ng.
lf the pattern cont|nues, the|r re|at|onsh|p w|th G|oba|Post
w||| be term|nated.
Be a storyteller.
Exper|ment w|th storyte|||ng |n the d|g|ta| age and
have some fun w|th |t.
We be||eve be|ng an |nternat|ona| correspondent |s one of the
greatest vocat|ons |n the wor|d. lt`s a ca|||ng. An |nv|tat|on to
go out to a d|stant |and, to fnd great stor|es and to report
them back to a home aud|ence. You can be cover|ng ser|ous
d|p|omat|c |n|t|at|ves one day and wr|t|ng about w|ne the next.
You can cover a fasc|nat|ng cr|me story or de|ve |nto a story
about the env|ronment or a bus|ness venture that |s break|ng
new ground. The great th|ng about be|ng an |nternat|ona|
correspondent |s the freedom.
Put s|mp|y, we want you to fnd the great stor|es and te||
them. And |n th|s d|g|ta| age, we want you to exper|ment
w|th how you do that. We want you to th|nk of yourse|f as a
pub||sher of your own country or top|c page or b|og. On these
pages, we encourage you to he|p us set up |mportant ||nks
and to host |nterest|ng b|ogs. Our pr|mary focus |s on the
wr|tten d|spatches that are short |n |ength, typ|ca||y no more
than 800 words. These are expected to be we||-reported,
we||-crafted, t|ght|y wr|tten p|eces of reportage.
There are many ways to te|| a story |n the d|g|ta| age.
We don`t expect any of you to be experts across a|| p|at-
forms. We respect peop|e who prefer to st|ck to the|r own
fe|d of expert|se as a wr|ter, photographer or v|deographer.
But we do want to |nv|te a|| of you to try aud|o record|ng and
photos and m|x|ng the two |nto aud|o s||deshows. Some of
you are exper|ment|ng w|th v|deo and a few of you have even
taken the OBS News tra|n|ng course. We hope you keep ex-
per|ment|ng. We want photographers to try the|r hand at wr|t-
|ng, and wr|ters to try the|r hand at photography. Be creat|ve.
ln the end of the day, great journa||sm |s about great
storyte|||ng. And what we want more than anyth|ng |s
for you to go out and fnd great stor|es.
ln th|s updated vers|on of the F|e|d Gu|de for 2012, we are |nc|ud|ng two |mportant
documents. The frst |s a chapter t|t|ed 'Be Soc|a|," a one-page cheat sheet on best
pract|ces for soc|a| network|ng by our correspondents w|th an eye toward expand|ng
the aud|ence for your stor|es. The second |s our 'Po||cy for Oorrect|ons," wh|ch c|ear|y
spe||s out G|oba|Post`s standards and pract|ces |n the event of an error |n report|ng or
ed|t|ng that needs to be corrected or c|ar|fed on the s|te.
Over the past three years, G|oba|Post has bu||t a soc|a| aud|ence on Facebook and
Tw|tter approach|ng 200,000 |nd|v|dua|s and grow|ng. By the end of 2012, we expect
th|s soc|a| graph to cont|nue to c||mb at a steady pace. S|nce the |aunch of the new
G|oba|Post.com |n January 2011, we have ro||ed out an even more |ntegrated soc|a|
p|atform to a||ow readers to share and engage w|th each other around G|oba|Post
content. We encourage you, as the Oorrespondent team, to get |nvo|ved |n the soc|a|
conversat|on. He|p us and our readers share your stor|es by part|c|pat|ng |n the soc|a|
conversat|ons happen|ng everyday. Be|ow |s a ||st of ways to get engaged through
soc|a| med|a that our soc|a| med|a team, Ant|er, has comp||ed.
Start by '||k|ng" or 'Fo||ow|ng" G|oba|Post on:
lf you have a Tw|tter prof|e send |t to us, we
have a Tw|tter ||st for correspondents:
Spread your content w|th|n your network:
'Share" the art|c|e to your Facebook wa||
'||ke" |t on the G|oba|Post fan page
Tweet |t to your network
Ask your fr|ends and network to share
w|th the|r networks.
Jo|n the conversat|on. The major|ty of the stor|es we post
on Facebook and Redd|t get a good conversat|on around
them. Fee| free to jo|n |n these conversat|ons, and on your
own stor|es, |dent|fy yourse|f as the author. We`ve seen more
engagement |n the conversat|ons when the author part|c|pates.
Re-tweet art|c|es from G|oba|Post or other
Suggest that your network fo||ow @G|oba|Post
on tw|tter or G|oba|Post on Facebook
Suggest that your network fo||ow the
G|oba|Post correspondent tw|tter ||st
lf you know other |nd|v|dua|s or news out|ets
that may be |nterested |n your art|c|e, share |t
w|th them v|a Facebook or Tw|tter
BE BIG ENOUGH
TO CORRECT MISTAKES
ln our frst two years, G|oba|Post has earned a reputat|on for
accuracy and fa|rness. We shou|d a|| be proud of that. lt`s a
so||d reputat|on we`ve bu||t upon the hard work and v|g||ance
of ed|tors and the carefu| and thorough report|ng of corre-
spondents |n the fe|d. And one of the best ways to preserve
that reputat|on |s to have a c|ear po||cy for correct|ons and to
be attent|ve to the process as a news organ|zat|on. The
ph||osophy beh|nd G|oba|Post`s correct|on po||cy |s s|mp|e:
lf an error of fact has been made, correct |t. Then, for the
sake of transparency, acknow|edge that the correct|on
has been made |n an ed|tor`s note.
Here`s how we spe||ed out the process |n |ast year`s
We fnd out about a poss|b|e error. lf correspondents are
a|erted to an error |n a p|ece, they must contact the|r ed|tor
ASAP. We a|so fnd out about errors through ema||s to
G|oba|Post and, frequent|y, comments.
The ed|tor, w|th the he|p of the correspondent, shou|d
|nvest|gate the a||eged error and |et Deputy Manag|ng
Ed|tor Andrew Me|drum and Ed|tor Thomas Mucha know
about the request and suggested remedy.
lf G|oba|Post determ|nes that a correct|on |s necessary,
the ed|tor w||| make the correct|on accord|ng to the
gu|de||nes be|ow and note |t |n the correct|on f|e
saved on the share dr|ve.
For errors of spe|||ng (w|th the except|on of proper nouns},
grammar, or punctuat|on there |s no need to note
Some more speciﬁc guidelines:
Misspellings of names; incorrect titles
F|x the spe|||ng or t|t|e and then add an ed|tor`s note.
Ed||o|'s |o|e. 7||s s|o|, |as oee| 0oda|ed |o
co||ec| ||e soe||||ç o/ !o|| 5m|||'s |ame.
Oorrect the error |n the story and then spec|fy wh|ch error has
been fxed |n the ed|tor`s note. For mu|t|p|e errors, note each
Ed||o|'s |o|e. 7||s s|o|, |as oee| 0oda|ed |o co||ec| ||e
ooo0|a||o| o/ ||e U|||ed 5|a|es. || |s aoo0| 30c m||||o|.
7|e soe||||ç o/ !o|| 5m|||'s |ame |as a|so oee| co||ec|ed.
lf you are chang|ng a head||ne to take account of SEO,
updated news, or s|mp|y a br||||ant |dea, there |s no need to
add an ed|tor`s note. However, |f there was an error of fact |n
the head||ne, put an ed|tor`s note at the bottom of the story.
The same app||es to sub-head||nes and story teases.
Errors that call into question
the premise of a story.
G|oba|Post has had, touch wood, on|y one examp|e of such
an error |n the frst two years s|nce we |aunched:
ln th|s case, we removed the story from the webs|te and
wrote a deta||ed ed|tor`s note. We a|so sent the ed|tor`s note
to our synd|cat|on partners and asked them to make the cor-
rect|on |n the|r pub||cat|ons as appropr|ate. Shou|d we have
another error of th|s magn|tude we wou|d fo||ow the same
procedure, wh|ch |nvo|ved consu|t|ng w|th the wr|ter on what
went wrong and contact|ng the ent|ty that was the subject of
ln the case of such a ser|ous correct|on, espec|a||y |f there
|s any threat of |ega| act|on, a|ert Ed|tor Thomas Mucha and
Deputy Manag|ng Ed|tor Andrew Me|drum |mmed|ate|y.
ln b|ogs (or |n reporter`s notebooks} we w||| fo||ow standard
web pract|ce for mak|ng and acknow|edg|ng a correct|on:
We have not to my know|edge had to correct an error of fact
|n a stand-a|one v|deo or photo ga||ery. Shou|d we need to do
that, the correct|on cou|d be acknow|edged |n the body fe|d.
lt unfortunate|y offers a very ||m|ted amount of text. ln a photo
ga||ery, the correct|on cou|d be acknow|edged w|th|n the
capt|on |n quest|on.
Developing news stories
P|ease do add an update to a story to take account of break-
|ng news - th|s |s part|cu|ar|y he|pfu| for SEO and the update
shou|d |nc|ude keywords. These updates shou|d appear |n
|ta||cs at the top of the story.
Uoda|e. 7|e dea|| |o|| || C|7Y |ad ||se| |o c0 o, ||e
||me ||e sea|c| a| |OC/7|O^ was |emoo|a|||, ca||ed o// a|
s0|se|, |e0|e|s |eoo||ed. C|7Y oo||ce sa|d o|e s0soec| was
|| c0s|od, a|d a s0soec|ed |wo add|||o|a| s0soec|s we|e
s|||| a| |a|çe.
ln the rare case where G|oba|Post fee|s a story |s correct but
a source or organ|zat|on fee|s |t needs c|ar|fcat|on, consu|t
w|th ed|tors on how to respond. ln most cases, we w||| |nv|te
the source to comment.
Things we don’t do:
Ass|gn b|ame, for examp|e by c|t|ng an 'ed|t|ng error"
or a 'report|ng error."
Regret errors. O|ear|y, we regret a|| errors so we don`t
need to spec|fy wh|ch ones we rea||y, rea||y regret.
DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD
G|oba|Post |s creat|ng not on|y an |nternat|ona| news webs|te,
but a commun|ty of fore|gn correspondents. You are a band
of free|ancers scattered around the g|obe, but we see you
a|| as one team, one tr|be and we want to encourage and
foster a sense of camarader|e. That |s too often m|ss|ng from
the wonderfu||y |ndependent, but somet|mes |so|at|ng ||fe of
a free|ancer part|cu|ar|y |n the d|g|ta| age. So we hope you
m|ght stay connected and share |ns|ghts and stor|es from the
fe|d and |earn from each other. When poss|b|e we hope you
m|ght even he|p each other |n these t|mes of both great un-
certa|nty and abundant poss|b|||ty for the future of journa||sm.
To that end, we have co||ected essays over the |ast three
years from correspondents and wr|ters connected to G|oba|-
Post that we th|nk are worth shar|ng. ln th|s ed|t|on, we have
two new essays that focus on a set of |essons we at G|oba|-
Post |earned |n ||bya dur|ng the so-ca||ed 'Arab Spr|ng.` The
frst |s by G|oba|Post correspondent James Fo|ey about the
ordea| of h|s capture |n ||bya and about |earn|ng the hard way
just how |mportant |t |s to step back and carefu||y assess the
s|tuat|on on the ground before head|ng out to the front||nes.
The second |s by G|oba|Post OEO Ph|||p S. Ba|bon| who
te||s the |ns|de story of how a news organ|zat|on goes about
mak|ng sure a correspondent |n troub|e gets home safe, and
how we at G|oba|Post seek to re-affrm a cu|ture of safety
for our correspondents around the wor|d. And we have a|so
|nc|uded n|ne prev|ous|y pub||shed d|spatches from the fe|d.
They |nc|ude: G|oba|Post co|umn|st HDS Greenway on near|y
50 years |n fore|gn news; G|oba|Post Afghan|stan Bureau
Oh|ef Jean MacKenz|e on |essons |earned |n a tough year |n
Afghan|stan; G|oba|Post ed|tor-at-|arge Sebast|an Junger on
the pract|ca| adv|ce that keeps you a||ve cover|ng conf|ct;
G|oba|Post Moscow correspondent M|r|am E|der about the
per||s of report|ng |n Russ|a; G|oba|Post Deputy Manag|ng
Ed|tor Andrew Me|drum on cover|ng and ||v|ng the story of
Z|mbabwe for 23 years; the BBO`s Wash|ngton Bureau Oh|ef
S|mon W||son on what he |earned from the Gaza k|dnap-
p|ng of a co||eague; G|oba|Post`s contr|but|ng correspondent
Jane Arraf on a woman`s perspect|ve on cover|ng the war |n
lraq; and G|oba|Post correspondent-at-|arge Matt McA||ester
about tak|ng a se|f-effac|ng |ook back on h|s report|ng from
Fa||ujah; and G|oba|Post`s correspondent cover|ng NGOs W||-
||am Dowe|| on the thr||| of a wor|d-c|ass scoop. Each of these
d|spatches from the fe|d te||s a story that offers a teach|ng
moment, a caut|onary ta|e or a ce|ebrat|on of the craft. We
wou|d ||ke for th|s co||ect|on to grow. And so any of you who
wou|d ||ke to contr|bute an essay for next year`s F|e|d Gu|de,
p|ease |et me know.
– C. M. Sennott
‘Stepping back’ to
assess a bad day
– By James Foley
MlSRATA, ||bya --l was captured by
forces |oya| to ||byan |eader Muam-
mar Gaddaf on Apr|| 5 and he|d for
45 days before be|ng re|eased. Now
seven months |ater, l am back cover-
|ng the rebe|s as they have succeeded
|n tak|ng the cap|ta| and beg|nn|ng to
estab||sh a new government.
lt`s good to be back. Th|s story matters
and l wanted to be here te|||ng |t from
But just about every day s|nce l was
freed and just about every moment l
am here report|ng from ||bya, l have
been refect|ng on the |essons |earned
from that harrow|ng exper|ence. l saw a
co||eague k|||ed. My fam||y was thrown
|nto a wor|d of constant worry. The
news organ|zat|on l work for was thrust
|nto a s|tuat|on of work|ng around the
c|ock on my beha|f.
lt`s fa|r to ask why d|d l go back, and
why am l st||| drawn to the story? lt`s
fa|r to ask |f there were m|stakes made
and |t`s |mportant to th|nk through how
l w||| avo|d mak|ng them |n the future.
So |et me wa|k through that day and try
to address some of the |essons |earned
a|ong the way.
Our |dea that morn|ng of Apr|| 5, the
day we were captured, was to go to
the front |n eastern ||bya to see fresh
batt|e damage from the n|ght before
and spend the day w|th the rebe|s.
||byan fghters on both s|des of the
conf|ct were known for be|ng |ate
s|eepers. We be||eved |t was ear|y
enough to get a |ook at the front||ne
and take an assessment of what the
rebe| pos|t|ons were before the
The pattern |n ||bya had been qu|et
morn|ngs fo||owed by rockets and mor-
tar attacks |n the afternoon. The prob-
|em |s we were assum|ng that pattern
wou|d ho|d, just because we hadn`t
seen any morn|ng fght|ng before.
Three other free|ancers and l jumped |n
a scout bus and headed past the |ast
checkpo|nt towards the Gaddaf-he|d
town of Brega. We knew |t was r|sky.
The burn|ng veh|c|es we passed were
s|gns of fresh fght|ng. But we d|dn`t
step back to take a better assessment,
and we shou|d have. Be|ng carefu| |n
assess|ng your report|ng every step of
the way |s to the key to mak|ng good
dec|s|ons. Before we knew |t, some
teenagers on the s|de of the road |n-
formed us that us Gaddaf forces were
300 meters away.
M|nutes |ater, two Gaddaf m|||tary
p|ckups topped the crest of the h||| and
bore down on us fr|ng the|r AK-47s.
We were too far away from the retreat-
|ng veh|c|e that had brought us, and
there was just too much gunfre to run
We h|t the ground. Any reporter who`s
been under d|rect fre knows, the body
reacts much before the m|nd can proc-
ess what |s actua||y happen|ng. The
m|nd w||| even present the |||us|on of a
way out, but the f|ght or fght |nst|ncts
are fu||y |n contro|. We burrowed our-
se|ves as much as poss|b|e |nto a sma||
sand dune on the s|de of the road, as
the Gaddaf veh|c|es s|owed to a stop
upon see|ng us, and cont|nued to fre
on fu|| or sem|-automat|c.
From beh|nd my sand dune, l heard
our co||eague Anton cry, 'He|p, he|p."
H|s vo|ce carr|ed the t|nge of a ser|ous
|njury. l shouted |f he was ok.
'No," he sa|d, |n a much weaker vo|ce.
The awfu| rea||ty k|cked |n. l |mag|ned
he was b|eed|ng bad|y.
The so|d|ers m|ght not even know we
were reporters. l jumped up, ho|d|ng
my hands and wa|ked towards them,
ye|||ng the word for 'journa||st"
l was struck across my ch|n w|th the
wooden butt end of an AK-47. l was
then h|t |n the head and punched |n the
eye. A|| my se|f-preservat|on |nst|ncts
were to not fght back and to be ||mp
and comp|ete|y comp|acent.
We were t|ed up and taken to a |oya||st
safe house |n Brega. |ater that after-
noon the three of us were transported
to S|rte and two days |ater to Tr|po||,
where we spent weeks |angu|sh|ng
|n a ser|es of pr|sons. We were never
beaten aga|n. We were genera||y we||
fed. But we d|dn`t get to make a phone
ca|| home for a|most 20 days and d|dn`t
see a western offc|a| for a|most a
month. And when these 'pr|v||eges` f-
na||y d|d come they were |arge|y due to
a tremendous amount of |nternat|ona|
advocacy on our beha|f.
As l have |nd|cated, l have taken a |ot
of t|me to refect on the dec|s|ons that
|ed me to the front ||nes on that day, the
m|stakes we made that |ed to the |oss
of a co||eague who was sense|ess|y
gunned down, and how we were ab|e
to |mprove our chances once
Many journa||sts have a des|re to get
to the front||nes to exper|ence what the
fee||ng and taste of the conf|ct |s rea||y
||ke. For some of us who cover conf|ct,
th|s |s an unden|ab|y a||ur|ng part of the
job, but the front can carry an attract|on
that |s perhaps more of an |nfatuat|on
w|th tak|ng r|sks than w|th rea| journa|-
|sm. My dec|s|on mak|ng that day was
c|ouded by an adrena||n-|nfuenced de-
s|re to be there frst, to push the ||m|ts
further. l had had some success cover-
|ng the front||nes, and l wanted more of
that. And |n aggress|ve|y pursu|ng that
des|re, l fa||ed to more carefu||y assess
the terra|n. That was the key m|stake.
Anton Hammer| was shot w|th an
AK burst and qu|ck|y b|ed to death.
Anyone of us cou|d have been h|m. To
what end were we |n the ||ne of fre that
day? The answer |s unc|ear.
l`ve |earned |n the hardest way that a
journa||st has to g|ve great thought to
the|r r|sk assessment. You have to ask
yourse|f what facts and |mpress|ons
need to be ver|fed w|th ones own
eyes and what can be ver|fed by other
means, |f you take one step back. Do
l need to go down that unknown road,
past that |ast checkpo|nt? Or, can l wa|t
to gather the accounts of those so|d|ers
and c|v|||ans who just went down |t and
are now retreat|ng back?
l was do|ng a |ot of v|deo, so my
|mpat|ence and compet|t|ve des|re
to get front||ne footage we|ghed over
what wou|d have been a better p|an. ln
th|s spec|fc scenar|o, we shou|d have
deve|oped re|at|onsh|ps w|th a more
organ|zed rebe| group, who cou|d have
prov|ded rea| protect|on and access.
But there are other |essons worth shar-
|ng. Some of the steps we took after
we were captured were the r|ghts one
and, l be||eve, he|pfu| |n ga|n|ng our
re|ease. Wh||e |n capt|v|ty, certa|n, com-
mon sense behav|ors probab|y he|ped
our chances to eventua||y be freed at
a t|me when NATO was bomb|ng the
cap|ta| where we were be|ng he|d.
F|rst, we a|ways to|d the truth and were
cons|stent w|th the facts. When you`re
captured by one of these reg|mes you
are at the mercy of |nterrogators and a
secret po||ce apparatus that has been
d|sappear|ng peop|e for decades. We
to|d the truth to our |nterrogators down
to the number of stor|es we`d f|ed.
At every step of the way we tr|ed to
be comp||ant and fr|end|y w|th guards,
dr|vers, |nterrogators and judges. We
tr|ed to be grac|ous and ca|m. We
made rea| fr|ends w|th fe||ow ||byan
pr|soners who shared w|th us extra
food, c|garettes and c|othes. l`m con-
v|nced |f we weren`t freed by the tre-
mendous efforts of our news organ|za-
t|ons, NGOs and |nternat|ona| groups,
my fe||ow ||byan pr|soners wou|d have
gotten us out when Tr|po|| fe||.
At one po|nt l refused to do a second
|nterv|ew on State Tv. Some m|ght
say that on one |eve| |t was a m|stake.
That |s, State Tv footage wou|d have
g|ven my fam||y and co||eagues further
proof that l was a||ve and do|ng fne.
But there |s another argument that
refus|ng a request at some po|nt |n your
capt|v|ty draws the ||ne for your captors
of how much they can exp|o|t you.
You have to know when to st|ck up for
yourse|f and do |t as po||te|y but frm|y
Above a||, l had to fnd a way to keep
up hope and strength. l prayed as
much as l cou|d, knee||ng w|th my
fe||ow capt|ves whether they were
Amer|can Ohr|st|ans or ||byan Mus||ms.
The act of co||ect|ve prayer and bu||d|ng
fa|th |n a h|gher power to gu|de me
through the s|tuat|on l cou|d not contro|
was perhaps the cr|t|ca| p|ece to
ma|nta|n|ng the r|ght att|tude to |ocked
pr|son ce||s and kangaroo courts.
My pat|ence and my fa|th that l`d be
re|eased was a|| l cou|d contro|.
l used to be the one who went down
the road. l took |t as a cha||enge, but
after a|most |os|ng my own ||fe and
spend|ng 44 days |n capt|v|ty, l now ask
myse|f very carefu||y, as one co||eague
put |t- to what end?
Now that l`m back work|ng |n ||bya,
l st||| assume some r|sks. Just be|ng
here |s a r|sk. But l have |ncorporated
greater safeguards ||ke morn|ng and
even|ng check |ns w|th ed|tors.
(l shou|d note that th|s requ|rement
was actua||y spe||ed out |n G|oba|Post`s
F|e|d Gu|de and l shou|d have ||ved
up to the requ|rement w|th my ed|tor
And now more than anyth|ng, l have a
sense that no short-term news story
that |nvo|ves an adrena||ne fx |s worth
the pa|n of what cou|d happen |f you
don`t make that dec|s|on to step back
and assess the s|tuat|on before
– By Philip S. Balboni
CEO and Co-Founder of GlobalPost
BOSTON - lt was dawn Apr|| 7, 2011
when we got the frst word |nto our
offce. An ema|| had |anded from Peter
Bouckaert of Human R|ghts Watch,
say|ng that he had 'been |nformed"
that our correspondent James Fo|ey
|n ||bya 'may be m|ss|ng."
l was worr|ed, but unsure whether
Fo|ey was just out of touch or rea||y |n
troub|e. By m|d-morn|ng, after a confer-
ence ca|| w|th Peter |n Sw|tzer|and,
and after read|ng ema||s from journa||st
co||eagues on the ground |n ||bya, we
knew Fo|ey was |n fact deta|ned. Yet
we had no |dea where he was or |n
One of the most |mportant |essons from
G|oba|Post`s exper|ence |n ga|n|ng J|m
Fo|ey`s re|ease was to reach out ear|y
and often to other news organ|zat|ons
and to the fore|gn correspondent com-
mun|ty. The|r know|edge and exper|-
ence was of |nca|cu|ab|e |mportance.
Human R|ghts Watch had worked
c|ose|y |n he|p|ng the New York T|mes,
wh|ch had gone through a s|m||ar ex-
per|ence severa| weeks ear||er w|th four
of the|r journa||sts he|d capt|ve |n ||bya
and then re|eased. So one of my frst
ca||s that morn|ng was to Susan Oh|ra,
the Fore|gn Ed|tor of the New York
T|mes, now an Ass|stant Manag|ng Ed|-
tor. Susan responded |mmed|ate|y and
offered to he|p |n any way she cou|d.
She a|so put me |n touch w|th Dav|d
McOraw, a sen|or New York T|mes
attorney who had |ed the negot|at|ons
to free h|s co||eagues. He ca||ed that
afternoon from Be|j|ng where he was
on a bus|ness tr|p and he offered
va|uab|e adv|ce that he|ped me ga|n
some momentum. Dav|d K|rkpatr|ck
and O.J. Oh|vers, two T|mes` reporters
on the ground |n ||bya, were a|so
enormous|y he|pfu| |n those ear|y days
of J|m`s capt|v|ty, as were so many
other journa||sts throughout the 43
day rescue operat|on.
Among the many |essons we |earned
|n the com|ng weeks, the frst came
|nst|nct|ve|y: lt`s cr|t|ca||y |mportant
that a s|ng|e person |ead the recovery
effort, and a|| commun|cat|on must fow
through th|s |nd|v|dua|. Oarefu| coor-
d|nat|on of |nformat|on from the fe|d,
from d|p|omat|c and NGO sources,
from other news organ|zat|ons, and
from w|th|n your own news organ|zat|on
must be f|tered through one |nd|v|dua|
and then spun back out where |t |s
most needed. Any breakdown |n the
commun|cat|on channe| cou|d have
ser|ous consequences for the overa||
Even though |t`s not the ro|e a OEO
wou|d norma||y p|ay, l took on that
respons|b|||ty for G|oba|Post . l had 46
years |n journa||sm to gu|de me and
he|p from an exper|enced ed|t|ng team
that had worked |n conf|ct zones as
we tr|ed our best to make the r|ght
dec|s|ons. lt was a|so abundant|y c|ear
to me that G|oba|Post`s reputat|on was
on the ||ne. As a young news organ|za-
t|on that re||ed a|most comp|ete|y on
free-|ance reporters a|| over the wor|d
we cou|d not fa|| |n our respons|b|||ty to
br|ng J|m Fo|ey home safe|y.
lt`s |mportant to note r|ght here that
Fo|ey was not an emp|oyee of G|oba|-
Post |n the c|ass|c sense of the term.
We a|so hadn`t ass|gned h|m to cover
the ||byan conf|ct. J|m |s a free|ancer
who had reported for us from Afghan|-
stan |n 2010 and had produced some
outstand|ng work |nc|ud|ng a v|deo
report on a frefght |n Kunar Prov|nce,
Afghan|stan that was broadcast on
both the OBS Even|ng News and the
PBS NewsHour |n September of that
year. J|m had then br|efy worked for
another news organ|zat|on before
dec|d|ng to trave| on h|s own to ||bya.
We were cover|ng the conf|ct w|th one
of our other correspondents, N|co|e
Sobeck|, who was based |n lstanbu|.
N|co|e had trave|ed to Benghaz| as
the ||byan conf|ct heated up. When
she dec|ded to |eave the country, J|m
Fo|ey became our go-to person on
From the morn|ng of Apr|| 7th unt||
Fo|ey crossed the ||byan border |nto
Tun|s|a on May 19th, l fe|t we at G|oba|-
Post had no more |mportant
m|ss|on than secur|ng h|s freedom.
Those 43 days were |ntense as we
worked ||tera||y around the c|ock, ca|||ng
and ema|||ng everyone who m|ght he|p
- offc|a|s at the ÜS State Department,
the Turk|sh Embassy (the Turks were
represent|ng ÜS |nterests |n Tr|po||},
||byan |eader Moammar Gaddaf`s
son Sa|f, members of Oongress,
and ||tera||y scores of others.
J|m was taken pr|soner w|th O|are
G||||s, another Amer|can free-|ance
reporter wr|t|ng for ÜSA Today and
the At|ant|c Month|y, Manu Brabo, a
Span|sh photographer work|ng for the
European Press Assoc|at|on (EPA},
and Anton Hammer|, a South Afr|can
journa||st. W|th|n days, we had created
a Or|s|s Management Team (OMT} w|th
our co||eagues at ÜSA Today and the
At|ant|c. We h|red a top-notch |nter-
nat|ona| secur|ty consu|t|ng agency |n
|ondon, AKE Group, staffed w|th ex-
Br|t|sh Secret A|r Serv|ce offcers, and
by Monday of the fo||ow|ng week we
had a team on the ground |n Tun|s|a.
l a|so d|spatched our Oa|ro corre-
spondent Jon Jensen to Tun|s to be
our eyes and ears on the ground. He
||nked up w|th the AKE team |n the
coasta| town of Djerba wh|ch was the
c|osest |arge sett|ement to the ||byan
border. Together, they spent weeks
p|ott|ng strategy w|th the OMT, scout|ng
the border post and the roads to and
from |t, prepar|ng med|ca| supp||es, and
work|ng |oca| d|p|omat|c ang|es to gath-
er |nte|||gence on what was happen|ng
|n Tr|po|| and w|th our journa||sts.
The OMT cons|sted of the three pr|nc|-
pa|s from G|oba|Post, ÜSA Today and
the At|ant|c, the AKE team |eader |n
Tun|s|a, our Jon Jensen and, depend-
|ng on the day`s events, other |nd|v|du-
a|s from the three news organ|zat|ons.
The OMT met more than 40 t|mes |n
conference ca||s that wou|d often |ast
for hours and that |nc|uded weekends.
Some days there were mu|t|p|e ca||s.
The ro|e p|ayed by AKE, wh||e enor-
mous|y expens|ve, was a|so cr|t|ca||y
|mportant. They brought expert|se |n
how to respond to a hostage s|tuat|on,
|nte|||gence gather|ng, fe|d operat|ons,
and the med|ca| and psycho|og|ca|
needs of |nd|v|dua|s who have been
he|d capt|ve for |ong per|ods of t|me -
expert|se that few of us |n journa||sm
possess to any mean|ngfu| degree. ln
our own case, hav|ng tra|ned profes-
s|ona|s on the ground c|ose to the
||byan border, and work|ng |n c|ose
concert w|th Jensen who |s a fuent
Arab|c speaker and h|gh|y know|edge-
ab|e about the reg|on and cu|ture,
proved to be |nva|uab|e.
Another v|ta||y |mportant factor was
stay|ng c|ose to the fam||y. l was |n
da||y contact w|th J|m Fo|ey`s mother,
D|ane, h|s father John, and h|s brother,
M|chae|. l grew to have great respect
and affect|on for the ent|re Fo|ey fam||y
- the|r courage and decency was an
|nsp|rat|on to me and to my co||eagues
and |t deepened our comm|tment to
br|ng J|m home as soon as poss|b|e.
F|na||y, |t`s essent|a| to have a strong
med|a and pub||c re|at|ons strategy so
that you can keep the story |n the news
and not a||ow the wor|d to forget about
h|s s|tuat|on. We worked very hard,
as d|d the Fo|ey and G||||s fam|||es,
to mob|||ze pub||c support for J|m`s
re|ease, stag|ng events and commun|-
cat|ng constant|y w|th |oca| and nat|ona|
med|a. There was tremendous |nterest
|n our journa||sts` p||ght and the med|a
were very support|ve |n prov|d|ng cov-
erage throughout the |ong ordea|.
J|m, O|are and Manu were re|eased
from capt|v|ty on May 18th |n the ear|y
even|ng |n Tr|po|| -- m|dday |n Boston.
Oheers went up |n our newsroom.
That n|ght l broke open the best bott|e
of s|ng|e ma|t Scotch |n my possess|on
and every member of the G|oba|Post
team shared a toast to J|m and
The on|y dark c|oud on the hor|zon was
the absence of Anton Hammer|. ln a||
of those |ong weeks of capt|v|ty, we
had not g|ven up hope that Anton was
okay even though he was never s|ghted
and, un||ke the other journa||sts, he was
never g|ven a phone ca|| home to
The next day, representat|ves of the
Hungar|an Embassy drove the four
journa||sts to the border cross|ng at Raj
Ad|r. They arr|ved after dark and our
team was there to meet them. They
spent the n|ght at a hote| |n Djerba, our
stag|ng area for the past 6 weeks. lt
was then that the secret J|m and O|are
and Manu had kept a|| those |ong days
|n capt|v|ty came out. Anton had been
shot to death by the Gaddaf fghters
on that frst day of capture, Apr|| 5th.
They had to watch Anton b|eed|ng to
death by the s|de of the road as the
government fghters took them away -
an |mage that w||| stay |n the|r
J|m and O|are were home |n Amer|ca
the very next day and the|r fam|||es
were exu|tant. We too were enormous|y
gratefu| and proud that one of the most
|mportant chapters |n the short h|story
of G|oba|Post was c|os|ng on such a
happy and successfu| note. We were
t|red but we were |nfn|te|y w|ser and we
fe|t ready to take on any new cha||enge
that m|ght come |n the months ahead.
on Narrative Nonﬁction
in War Zones
– By Sebastian Junger
My ru|e |s that you need to
be ab|e to carry everyth|ng you
have for a m||e. By that l mean that you
can put everyth|ng you`re br|ng|ng on
ass|gnment |nto a bag w|th straps, s||ng
|t over your shou|der and wa|k for a m||e
w|thout any prob|em. l`m not sure why
l fee| so strong|y about th|s except that
|t makes you |eave at home th|ngs you
don`t rea||y need, and |t enab|es you
to operate |ndependent|y of anyth|ng
or anyone |n whatever fore|gn country
you`ve just fow |nto.
So what do l put |n th|s bag?
F|rst of a||, l fee| l shou|d be ab|e to
s|eep outs|de w|thout too much hard-
sh|p. That means carry|ng a s|eep|ng
bag |n co|der c||mates and some sort of
mosqu|to-net tent |n warmer ones. That
frees me from mak|ng my p|ans around
hote|s, towns and transportat|on. l
br|ng a sate|||te phone for the same
reason (the lr|d|um that l use charges
$1.49 a m|nute anywhere |n the wor|d,
wh|ch |s a |ot cheaper than |oca| ce|| or
|and||ne.} l br|ng four or fve reporters`
notebooks, a box of fast-wr|t|ng Ün|ba||
pens and a m|cro-cassette recorder.
Recent|y l`ve a|so started trave|||ng
w|th a m|n|-Dv camcorder that |s sma||
enough to a|ways keep w|th me. l
f|med a mortar attack on a refugee
camp |n ||ber|a because l had a cam-
era w|th me, wh|ch |ater a||owed me
to support the pub||cat|on of my art|c|e
w|th v|deo |mages that were broad-
cast on te|ev|s|on. That k|nd of med|a
convergence |s |ncreas|ng|y |mportant
|n today`s market.
ln many countr|es peop|e don`t
dr|nk coffee, wh|ch l persona||y fee| a
deep, a|most desperate need for |n the
morn|ng, so l a|ways trave| w|th
a (p|ast|c} jar of crysta|s. l br|ng a stand-
ard med|ca| k|t that has been beefed
up w|th ster||e need|es, a m|||tary
tourn|quet and an 'lsrae||" compres-
s|on bandage. l a|most a|ways come
down w|th dysentery on my tr|ps, so
a stomach med|c|ne |s a must, as are
re-hydrat|on sa|ts, ant|b|ot|cs, pa|n k|||-
ers and - |n the trop|cs - ant|-ma|ar|a|s.
lf l am go|ng to be embedded w|th a
Western m|||tary l br|ng a bu||etproof
vest and he|met; otherw|se l |eave |t
at home (they cost a thousand do||ars
and |n some countr|es you`|| |ose them
at the frst checkpo|nt.} l a|ways have a
fash||ght, a fo|d|ng kn|fe and a c|ga-
rette ||ghter |n my pocket. Never br|ng
a compass, b|nocu|ars or two-way
rad|os to a c|v|| war; |nev|tab|y someone
|s go|ng to accuse you of be|ng a spy,
and |tems ||ke that cou|d |ead to an
extreme|y dangerous s|tuat|on. lf you
br|ng a map, make sure there are no
contour ||nes on |t, for the same reason.
l br|ng a copy of one of the books l`ve
wr|tten, just to prove that l`m tru|y an
author. Many countr|es - |nc|ud|ng the
Ün|ted States - have used journa||sm
as a cover for esp|onage, so |nd|gnant|y
dec|ar|ng that you`re a work|ng member
of the press won`t he|p you much.
One |dea you`re go|ng to fnd yourse|f
dragg|ng from one war zone to another
|s the assumpt|on that r|sk and good
journa||sm go hand-|n-hand, and that
|f you`re not gett|ng shot at, you`re not
gett|ng the story. That`s wrong, though
not utter|y, abso|ute|y wrong; as w|th
most th|ngs, |t`s a matter of degree.
There`s not much to take notes on
when you`re under fre except what
the rocks |ook ||ke that you`re h|d|ng
beh|nd. That sa|d, r|sk |s |ncred|b|y
attent|on-gett|ng: A ||tt|e fear can br|ng
a story |nto focus that you m|ght other-
w|se be fa|||ng as|eep on. ||kew|se for
the reader, a story where the reporter |s
c|ear|y scared |s a story where the read-
er fnds h|mse|f |nvested |n the outcome
and on the edge of h|s seat. Fear |s one
of those pr|mary emot|ons - a|ong w|th
hate and |ove and shame - that organ-
|ze human soc|ety and prope|s
us through our ||ves. When those emo-
t|ons show up, everyone |n the room
not|ces and pays attent|on.
No good journa||st, however, wou|d
ever |ncur r|sk for the he|| of |t - or for
the narrat|ve drama of |t. That wou|d be
terr|fca||y |ndu|gent and wou|d ent|re|y
m|ss the po|nt of good journa||sm,
wh|ch |s to report on the wor|d wh||e
s|mu|taneous|y keep|ng one`s ego to
a m|n|mum. But that same |ack of ego
a|so means that ne|ther shou|d one
va|ue one`s ||fe abso|ute|y. There are
stor|es - the s|ege of Sarajevo |n the
1990`s, for examp|e - that are so ter-
r|b|e and |mportant that |t |s acceptab|e
to run r|sks |n order to get the word
out. Reporters d|ed cover|ng the s|ege
of Sarajevo, and l`m sure they d|ed ter-
r|fed. lt`s not a n|ce fee||ng, that terror,
but somet|mes |t`s an unavo|dab|e part
of an |mportant job. When the t|me
comes to wr|te the story, however, you
have to make sure that your exper|-
ence |||um|nates the exper|ence w|thout
become the centra| po|nt of |t. You are
not starr|ng |n an act|on mov|e, |n
My frst step, after l get home from
ass|gnment, |s to go through my notes
and |nterv|ews w|th a red pen and
under||ne the good stuff. Then l wr|te a
sort of '|nventory" of what l have - |n-
c|ud|ng whatever h|stor|ca| or geopo||t|-
ca| mater|a| m|ght be re|evant. Once l
have that, l start chunk|ng out the bas|c
structure of the p|ece. l try to a|ternate
between 'scenes" and 'sect|ons."
Scenes convey |nformat|on |nd|rect|y
but compe|||ng|y: A conversat|on at a
bar that |s utter|y anecdota|, but that
po|gnant|y |||um|nates the tragedy of
sex traffck|ng. Sect|ons |mpart |nforma-
t|on d|rect|y but are bor|ng as he||: A
br|ef h|story of the Eastern European
country where sex traffck|ng happens.
For obv|ous reasons, the sect|ons
requ|re a |ot of work and a |ot of jour-
na||st|c restra|nt. 'Be|ng a good wr|ter"
usua||y just means know|ng when your
reader has started to get bored.
So, structure: You start w|th a scene,
get the reader to care about the
characters (or, occas|ona||y, the wr|ter},
then g|ve then g|ve them whatever
|nformat|on they need |n order to make
sense of the scene they just read.
W|thout the |nformat|on, the scenes
are just act|on-mov|e theatr|cs; w|thout
the scenes, though, the |nformat|on |s
academ|c and un|nterest|ng. Rhythm
|s everyth|ng, part|cu|ar|y w|th the dr|er
mater|a|. Peop|e w||| read anyth|ng |f the
rhythm w|th|n the sentences |s r|ght.
The ent|re p|ece has a rhythm too; |t
ebbs and fows w|th tens|on, and you
have to exp|o|t that to keep peop|e
read|ng. The qu|et stretches are as
necessary as the dynam|c ones, and
the |nterp|ay between the two |s one of
the th|ngs peop|e mean when they ta|k
about 'structure." A |ot of th|ngs |n ||fe
have the same structure that a compe|-
||ng p|ece of wr|t|ng has: An attent|on
gett|ng start, a |u||, a gradua| bu||d to a
great he|ght and then a carefu| d|sman-
t||ng. Oareers, romances, ||ves, nat|ons
often fo||ow that same bas|c temp|ate.
lt`s not rocket sc|ence, but you do have
to pay attent|on.
You`|| w|nd up w|th a p|ece that thor-
ough|y |nvest|gates a sma|| - probab|y
trag|c - s|deshow |n the great, ongo-
|ng drama of the wor|d. lf that |s a||
you do, you`|| have accomp||shed one
of the most |mportant ro|es of a free
press, wh|ch |s the w|de d|ssem|nat|on
of |nformat|on. Occas|ona||y, though,
you`|| have wr|tten someth|ng that uses
a part|cu|ar story to |||um|nate a greater
truth about the wor|d, about human|ty,
about hope or suffer|ng or |oss. Great
journa||sm doesn`t requ|re that, but |t
occas|ona||y atta|ns |t. You`|| know |f
when |t happens. lt |s, |n my op|n|on,
one of the most powerfu| and |ntox|cat-
|ng fee||ngs one can have.
(5eoas||a| !0|çe| |s a |ew|, |amed
memoe| o/ G|ooa||os|'s Soa|d o/
Ed||o||a| /d.|so|s a|d 7|e ^ew Yo||
7|mes oes|-se||||ç a0||o| o/ H/|, w||c|
doc0me||s ||e exoe||e|ce o/ a s||ç|e
o|a|oo| || o|e o/ ||e mos| .|o|e|| ooc|-
e|s o/ /ç||||ç || //ç|a||s|a|. |e a|so
co-d||ec|ed w||| 7|m |e||e|||ç|o| ||e
doc0me||a|, ¨|es||eoo,° w||c| wo| ||e
G|a|d !0|, |||ze a| 50|da|ce. O| /o|||
20, 7|m |e||e|||ç|o| was ||||ed w|||e
|eoo||||ç || ||o,a.¹
50 Years in
– By HDS Greenway
GlobalPost’s Worldview columnist.
'To see ||fe; to see the wor|d; to
eyew|tness great events; to watch the
faces of the poor and the gestures of
the proud; to see strange th|ngs- ma-
ch|nes, arm|es, mu|t|tudes, shadows
|n the jung|e and on the moon. to see
th|ngs thousands of m||es away, th|ngs
h|dden beh|nd wa||s and w|th|n rooms;
th|ngs dangerous to come to.to see
and be amazed; to see and
These were the words Henry |uce
used for h|s 1936 prospectus for a new
pub||cat|on he was start|ng:
||fe Magaz|ne. H|s words capsu||zed
a|| the romance, adventure and - dare
l say |t- g|amour of a fore|gn
l wou|d not d|m|n|sh the exc|tement
cover|ng Wash|ngton, or c|ty ha||, or the
tumu|tuous wor|d of sport. But ' to see
the wor|d; eyew|tness to great events;
to see th|ngs thousands of m||es away;
th|ngs dangerous to come to, that |s
the provenance of report|ng on coun-
tr|es and cu|tures other than your own.
And what a trad|t|on |t |s: W||||am
Russe|| report|ng from the Or|mea,
scene of the famous charge of the
||ght Br|gade, G.W. Steevens, whose
book 'W|th K|tchener to Khartoum" |s
here |n my ||brary as l wr|te, R|chard
Hard|ng Dav|s, whose d|spatches from
Ouba |n the Span|sh Amer|can War
enhanced h|s a|ready cons|derab|e
reputat|on, Ern|e Py|e, who d|ed |n the
Pac|fc cover|ng the Gls he |oved, Dav|d
Ha|berstam,|n v|etnam, F||k|ns (Dexter}
of Fa||uja, and on and on.
None can say |t |sn`t |mportant
work. Here stands Amer|ca, st||| the
greatest power on earth, deep|y |n-
vo|ved |n two wars, and nuc|ear |ssues
w|th lran and North Korea, an emerg|ng
Oh|na, and a su||en Russ|a, w|th any
number of prob|ems w|th those who
favor us, and those who hate us, and
everybody |n between. How can a de-
mocracy make |nte|||gent dec|s|ons |f |t
|s not |nformed what`s go|ng on beyond
|ts borders? W|thout fore|gn corre-
spondents the g|ant |s b||nd, barg|ng
|nto the furn|ture |n an unfam|||ar room.
Amer|ca, b|essed as |t |s, has not
exper|enced war on |ts so|| s|nce the
|ast of the Apaches were suppressed
a century ago. Nor have Amer|cans
exper|enced great fam|nes, revo|ut|ons,
devastat|ng poverty, and d|ctatorsh|p,
too often the provenance of the
The best of them have a knack of
d|gg|ng deep |nto the countr|es and
cu|tures they are ||v|ng |n w|thout ever
|os|ng the|r sense of 'gee wh|z," the
ab|||ty to br|ng |t a|| fresh and new to
the|r readers, never |os|ng a sense of
for whom they wr|te. There |s no subst|-
tute for ||v|ng |n another country, when
your down t|me, the chance meet|ngs
the conversat|ons, a|| turn out to be
gr|st for the m||| of understand|ng.
l began my ||fe |n the news trade as a
young ens|gn |n the Navy, tasked w|th
putt|ng out a feet newspaper. lt was
the |ate fft|es, and the A|ger|an war
raged as France tr|ed to hang on to
emp|re. l s||pped a short essay |nto the
paper about A|ger|a, on|y to hear from
the sh|p`s execut|ve offcer.
Wh||e the A|ger|a art|c|e may have been
|nformat|ve he sa|d, |t 'read ||ke a po||t|-
ca| sc|ence text book." What the feet
wanted was 'names, scanda|, po||t|ca|
d|rt, murder rape, |ove nests." H|s fa-
vor|te |ead from the o|d New York Wor|d
was: ' 'He||,` sa|d the duchess, '|et go
of my |eg.` " My frst |esson |n journa|-
|sm: you have to capt|vate the reader
not bore, or preach to h|m.
l jo|ned Henry |uce`s emp|re |n the
ear|y s|xt|es, when T|me and ||fe were
at the|r zen|th, w|th bureaus, str|ngers,
and correspondents |n a|| the strange
p|aces of the p|anet. ||fe Magaz|ne was
st||| then b|gger than te|ev|s|on, and
had fu|f||ed a|| that |uce`s prospec-
tus had asked of |t. Then |t was the
Wash|ngton Post, and then the Boston
G|obe, where l was asked to bu||d up
a fore|gn news serv|ce w|th bureaus |n
strateg|c p|aces - a|| to be torn down
when newspapers began to re||nqu|sh
the|r m|ss|on to |nform, wh|ch they had
a|ways seen as a pub||c serv|ce as we||
as a bus|ness.
l |ook back, now, on the ffty years
s|nce Oommander J.T. Straker, ÜS
Navy, brought me up sharp for be|ng
pretent|ous, and l wou|d change very
few of those years.
l watched the great hemorrhag|ng
of refugees from East Benga|, dur|ng
the pa|nfu| b|rth of Bang|a Desh, the
faces of the poor |n |ong co|umns you
cou|d spot from the vu|tures |n the sky,
wa|t|ng to compete w|th dogs to eat
the dead. l watched the gestures of
the proud when Anwar Sadat changed
h|story |n Jerusa|em.
l have seen |nsp|r|ng th|ngs, such as the
wa|| com|ng down |n Ber||n, and th|ngs
dangerous to come to, despa|r|ng
countr|es, burn|ng towns, guer|||as and
br|gands, and shadows |n the jung|e
where enem|es |ay |n ambush. l have
been shot, tear -gassed, and thrown
|n ja||. l have |nterv|ewed the capta|ns
and the k|ngs, a coup|e of queens, and
more than a few knaves. l have been
amazed, as we|| as |nstructed, and
somet|mes, l ||ke to th|nk, |t has he|ped
someone understand someth|ng about
th|ngs thousands of m||es away.
– By Jean MacKenzie
GlobalPost Afghanistan Bureau Chief
'But we have to do the story. lf we |g-
nore th|s |nc|dent, then the peop|e who
d|d th|s w||| never be pun|shed.
lt |s our job."
There |s noth|ng worse than hear|ng
your own words com|ng back to you.
The speaker |s an Afghan journa||st,
we`|| ca|| h|m Az|z, a young man of 20
who has bare|y comp|eted h|gh schoo|.
He has just broken a story that no one,
|nc|ud|ng me, wanted h|m to do. Hav|ng
heard that fore|gn forces had gone on
a rampage |n southern He|mand, Az|z
ga|ned access to a c|osed ward |n a
pr|vate hosp|ta| |n |ashkar Gah by pos-
|ng as a fam||y member. Once |n, he
proceeded to |nterv|ew a man whose
throat had been s||t, a||eged|y by fore|gn
troops. He was now ready to go pub||c,
and l had been fght|ng h|m every
step of the way.
The story was compe|||ng, the
sources conv|nc|ng. But the subject
matter was just too exp|os|ve. lt was
the k|nd of p|ece that cou|d eas||y
feed |nto Ta||ban propaganda, and
create even greater d|ffcu|t|es for
the be|eaguered fore|gn forces |n
l had been |n He|mand for about a year,
conduct|ng workshops for |oca| journa|-
|sts and journa||st wannabes. He|mand,
cap|ta| of the wor|d`s op|um poppy
|ndustry and center of the Ta||ban
|nsurgency, |s one of the more cha||eng-
|ng ass|gnments l`ve had |n a career
that has spanned severa| decades and
more than a few cont|nents. But the
response from a sma|| but ded|cated
group of Afghans had surpr|sed and
Tra|n|ng reporters can be a frustrat|ng
and |arge|y thank|ess task. Afghan|-
stan |s ||ttered w|th the messy rema|ns
of two-week workshops |n wh|ch
seasoned hacks try to bo|| down the
exper|ences of a ||fet|me |nto eas||y
d|gest|b|e sound b|tes.
Not surpr|s|ng|y, th|s often resu|ts |n a
group of ha|f-formed journa||sts w|th
fancy cert|fcates and heads fu|| of
nonsense. But when taken ser|ous|y
by tra|ner and tra|nee, the re|at|onsh|p
can prove |mmense|y benefc|a|
to both s|des.
l had become a journa||st the
o|d-fash|oned way, absorb|ng the
ru|es from ed|tors and co||eagues,
wh||e add|ng a |arge do||op of |nst|nct
to my seat-of-the-pants educat|on.
Now, for the frst t|me, l had to try and
exp|a|n my methods to a group of
eager but untutored reporters, most
of whom had ||m|ted schoo||ng and a
drast|ca||y truncated wor|d v|ew.
D|ffcu|t|es arose when l had to answer
quest|ons. Th|s |s Afghan|stan, and a
war zone, and the answers mattered.
Oan one be a 'rea|" journa||st wh||e
work|ng for the government? How far
do we go to get a story? Or the most
common quest|on |n the |nsurgency-
wracked south: Do the pr|nc|p|es of
fa|rness, ba|ance, and |mpart|a||ty
extend to the Ta||ban?
ln c|ass we may |ns|st that the
tra|nees fnd and |nterv|ew Ta||ban
to g|ve substance to a p|ece on c|v|||an
casua|t|es or schoo| burn|ngs. But the
|oca| government, as we|| as the |nter-
nat|ona| forces, may then grumb|e that
the journa||sts are 'prov|d|ng the enemy
w|th a p|atform for propaganda."
On the other hand, a journa||st whose
coverage of the |nsurgency |s a b|t too
cr|t|ca| may soon |and |n rea| jeopardy.
'lf l wr|te bad th|ngs about the
Br|t|sh so|d|ers, then Oo|one| Ohar||e
may stop |nv|t|ng me to press confer-
ences," |aughed one tra|nee, referr|ng
to Oo|one| Ohar|es Mayo, at the t|me
the spokesman for the Br|t|sh forces |n
He|mand. 'But |f l say bad th|ngs about
the Ta||ban, someone w|||
come and cut off my head."
Safety |s the pr|mary preoccupat|on |n
Afghan|stan. No one wants to ass|gn a
story that gets a reporter k|||ed. Th|s |s
espec|a||y d|ffcu|t when you are tra|n|ng
hotheaded young Afghans, who trust
everyth|ng to A||ah wh||e tak|ng a|most
'We want to go to Musa Oa|a," sa|d
Ahmad, one of the br|ghtest of the
group. Musa Oa|a, then a Ta||ban out-
post on the other s|de of an extended
no-man`s-|and, was certa|n|y a great
story. But how cou|d anyone get there?
'We`ve been negot|at|ng w|th the
Ta||ban," he confessed. 'They say
they`|| gu|de us |n."
F|ve reporters spent a|most a week on
the story - at one po|nt be|ng he|d by a
rogue Ta||ban group that ca||ed head-
quarters ask|ng for perm|ss|on to shoot
them. They made |t |n and out, ga|n|ng
footage and copy that went around
The greatest danger they faced came
when they returned to the supposed|y
safe, government-contro||ed area. The
prov|nc|a| po||ce ch|ef prompt|y |ssued
a warrant for the|r arrest. Three of them
went underground for severa| days; two
of them spent a n|ght |n ja||.
Try exp|a|n|ng that to your c|ass.
l spend qu|te a b|t of t|me ta|k|ng to
Afghan journa||sts about the|r 'm|ss|on."
l can quote chapter and verse about
journa||sm as the 'br|dge" between the
peop|e and those |n power; l t|e myse|f
|n knots try|ng to exp|a|n the concept of
a 'watchdog press" to touchy Afghans
who become extreme|y offended when
they th|nk they are be|ng compared
And l mean |t, of course l do.
But now Az|z was |ook|ng at me
earnest|y and ask|ng me to stand up
for what l sa|d l be||eved |n, w|th h|s
story about an a||eged massacre by
fore|gn forces. He had done an
exce||ent job and h|s p|ece was so||d.
Do l say 'pub||sh and be damned"?
Or k||| the story to keep the peace?
ln the end, we went w|th the story.
Pred|ctab|y, |t produced a frestorm.
The Br|t|sh m|||tary base reopened |ts
|nqu|ry; the lnternat|ona| Oomm|ttee of
the Red Oross and the Ün|ted Nat|ons
got |nvo|ved. Other med|a p|cked |t up,
and l spent months answer|ng quer|es.
The journa||sts who d|d the research
were br|efy deta|ned by the author|t|es,
and to|d not to engage |n such subver-
s|on aga|n, a warn|ng they have
Our tra|n|ng project was, perhaps co|n-
c|denta||y, d|scont|nued short|y after the
Was |t worth |t? Abso|ute|y. The journa|-
|sts |n He|mand wa|k a ||tt|e ta||er now.
Frank|y, so do l.
(G|ooa||os| //ç|a||s|a| S0|ea0 C||e/
!ea| /ac|e|z|e |as oee| ||a||||ç |o0|-
|a||s|s || //ç|a||s|a| /o| ||e ||s|||0|e /o|
Ha| a|d |eace |eoo||||ç /o| ||e oas|
Lessons from Falluja
– By Matt McAllester
The Ü.S.-|ed attack on the lraq| c|ty
of Fa||ujah |n November 2004 was
the most |ntense combat |n wh|ch
the Amer|can m|||tary has taken part
s|nce the v|etnam War. The ma|n batt|e
|asted just over a week. l spent that
t|me embedded w|th an Army un|t, 2nd
Batta||on - 7th Oava|ry Reg|ment out of
Fort Hood, Texas. There were a number
of |essons about report|ng on combat
and report|ng |n genera| that l |earned
or re-|earned dur|ng that very |ntense
week, and |n the weeks and months
after the batt|e. l d|d some th|ngs we||,
some th|ngs bad|y.
ln most embeds, |t works th|s way:
You get ass|gned to a batta||on or a
company, wh|ch g|ves you, respec-
t|ve|y, about 800 or 200 so|d|ers to
chat to. That`s obv|ous|y too many for a
story of any |ength. So you have to go
m|crocosm|c. You have to get to know
so|d|ers who ||ke you and whom you
||ke, who are good ta|kers, w|th whom
you can see yourse|f spend|ng a |ot of
t|me. These very few peop|e are go|ng
to have to be the way you te|| the story
of a major batt|e |nvo|v|ng thousands of
so|d|ers. Don`t crowd them or pretend
you`re the|r new best fr|end forever.
Just hang out a b|t and bu||d |t up. lf |n
doubt, |t`s better to shut up than to jab-
ber away. Don`t name-drop dangerous
p|aces you may have been to. They
don`t |mpress eas||y.
l focused on a p|atoon (about 30
so|d|ers} and then narrowed |t down to
one squad, wh|ch was e|ght men. One
of them wou|d d|e |n the batt|e. Most
wou|d be |njured.
What l d|dn`t do we|| enough was get
to know them persona||y. At |east, not
as much as l shou|d have. A batt|e |s
d|stract|ng and exhaust|ng and scary so
l spent much of my t|me try|ng to stay
a||ve, gett|ng to know the sen|or offcers
and speak|ng w|th |ots of other so|d|ers.
l shou|d have bu||t up more compre-
hens|ve b|ograph|ca| and character
sketches of the squad l had m|grated
toward. l shou|d have known where
they a|| grew up, what the|r favor|te
bands were, the names of the|r k|ds,
why they jo|ned the m|||tary. l knew on|y
some of that. lf you`re go|ng to focus,
And then one day they stormed a
house and got outnumbered and
cornered. One of them, a guy l ||ked,
was shot dead. A|| but two of the
others were shot and |njured.
l wasn`t there and l rema|n deep|y
conf|cted about th|s. l sat out that
morn|ng m|ss|on for two reasons: l was
exhausted, and there was beg|nn|ng
to be a repet|t|on about my stor|es that
d|d not, |t seemed to me at the t|me,
compe| me to go on every m|ss|on and
put myse|f |n such extreme danger a||
the t|me. Part of me has a|ways fe|t that
l made a very smart ca||, that l wou|d
a|most certa|n|y have been shot too
had l been present when the squad
had stormed the house fu|| of |nsur-
gents. But another part of me fee|s ||ke
l fa||ed - because l |et them down on
a persona| |eve|, by not be|ng there to
w|tness the|r worst moments, and be-
cause l m|ssed the story. As a reporter,
l fe|t l had dropped the ba||.
l st||| don`t know what |esson to draw
from a|| of that. D|d l make the r|ght ca||
But here`s one l re-|earned soon after:
the story, ||ke most stor|es, was te||ab|e
after the fact. You do not have to be
present. Sy Hersh was not at My |a|
or Abu Ghra|b. He just asked the r|ght
peop|e what happened there. The two
un|njured so|d|ers were happy to te||
the story of what one of them ca||ed
a 'mad m|nute from he||." l spoke to
the dead so|d|er`s father on the phone,
from h|s home |n Texas, and w|th the
so|d|er`s young w|fe. l a|so spoke to the
batta||on commander`s w|fe, who had
gone to the so|d|er`s w|dow`s home
short|y after an offcer had broken the
news to her. The story came together
days after the event, and l th|nk |t was
perhaps as mean|ngfu| storyte|||ng as
anyth|ng l cou|d have put together had l
been |n that house.
One fna| |esson l remembered |n the
aftermath of Fa||ujah and then du|y
forgot aga|n: to keep report|ng on the
same story strands, to rev|s|t, get up-
dates, see what has changed, keep |n
touch. l d|d th|s at frst, return|ng to lraq
a few months |ater to see the same so|-
d|ers aga|n, to exp|ore how the batt|e
and the|r gr|ef had affected them. We
sat and ta|ked for hours. They opened
up |n ways they d|dn`t have the t|me
and |nc||nat|on to do |n November. And
the passage of t|me |tse|f had added
|ayers to the|r stor|es.
After that, l kept |n touch w|th some
of them but l pretty much fe|t l had
done a|| l cou|d w|th these guys. l
sent a condo|ence ema|| to the dead
so|d|er`s s|ster when l heard that her
other brother had a|so been k|||ed, |n
a m|||tary 'acc|dent," |n Afghan|stan.
They were the frst Amer|can brothers
to be k|||ed |n the two ma|n theaters of
conf|ct |n the post-9/11 wars. lt was a
trag|c co|nc|dence and a po|gnant da||y
news story for sure, but based on the
facts l had l made a judgement that |t
was not a strong enough narrat|ve for a
|onger magaz|ne p|ece.
More than a year |ater, l opened the
magaz|ne l ma|n|y work for now and
saw a story by another reporter about
my so|d|er, Jose, and h|s brother,
Andrew. Andrew, |t turned out, was
desperate|y upset by Jose`s death. He
had not had an 'acc|dent" |n the fe|d
of batt|e, as had been reported. He
had k|||ed h|mse|f w|th h|s r|fe. lt was
a mov|ng, powerfu| story. l had not
kept report|ng the story. l shou|d have
de|ved further and not trusted the facts
'as reported," but confrmed on my
own what had rea||y happened. l w||| try
not to do that aga|n.
Perils of Reporting
– By Miriam Elder
MOSOOW - lt was October 2007,
about a year after l moved here, when
my fr|end Stephen d|sappeared.
No one knew where he was. H|s
fr|ends d|dn`t know, h|s co||eagues
d|dn`t know, h|s boss d|dn`t know.
Weeks |ater, we |earned that Stephen,
a journa||st for Agence France-Presse,
had gone on ho||day and never came
back. The rumors spread qu|ck|y. Had
he gotten a Russ|an g|r| pregnant and
fed out of fear? Had he gotten a taste
of the West and remembered how n|ce
||fe was there? None of |t made
lt was on|y |n Apr|| 2008 that we, h|s
fr|ends |n the Moscow press corps,
got the fu|| story, or at |east Stephen`s
vers|on of |t. He had organ|zed a go|ng
away party |n K|ev, be|ng too scared to
enter Russ|an terr|tory to say good-bye
to h|s fr|ends or even p|ck up h|s th|ngs.
S|tt|ng around a |ong tab|e at a
Ükra|n|an restaurant, around 20 of us
gathered to ||sten to Stephen`s story.
One n|ght |n ear|y 2008, Stephen to|d
us, he stopped a gypsy cab to take h|m
home, as he d|d most every n|ght. The
dr|ver was ta|kat|ve, and fr|end|y. They
ta|ked about mus|c. They ta|ked about
||fe. The dr|ver asked Stephen what he
d|d, and he sa|d he was a journa||st.
The dr|ver sa|d he had recent|y ret|red
from the M|n|stry of Defense. The r|de
ended w|th the dr|ver, A|ex, say|ng
he had very |nterest|ng |nformat|on
and contacts on th|ngs ||ke lran and
Afghan|stan and |t wou|d be a shame
|f they never met aga|n. Stephen, an
eager journa||st, had h|s |nterest qu|ck|y
p|qued. They began hang|ng out - at
Moscow cafes or ¦at A|ex`s
A|ex, who by then sa|d he used to
work for the GRÜ, the Sov|et Ün|on`s
fore|gn |nte|||gence agency, d|d |ndeed
have |nformat|on - sate|||te photos that
he sa|d showed a|||ance vu|nerab|||t|es
|n Afghan|stan - that he passed on to
Stephen, who was re|uctant to keep
them |n h|s possess|on but |ncapab|e of
res|st|ng the urge of A Great Story.
He d|dn`t te|| h|s ed|tors at AFP. P|an-
n|ng a move to B|oomberg, Stephen
was hop|ng to pub||sh a story |n a ma-
jor ÜS magaz|ne dur|ng the br|ef per|od
he was t|ed to no organ|zat|on.
Stephen then d|d |ndeed go on vaca-
t|on - to Scot|and, where he met up
w|th a fr|end who used to work for
the OlA. He recounted h|s ta|e. And
that was that. Embassy consu|tat|ons
fo||owed, as d|d extreme parano|a.
Stephen, and State Department of-
fc|a|s, became conv|nced that he had
fa||en for one of the o|dest tr|cks |n the
Sov|et p|aybook, w|th agents gather-
|ng kompromat (d|rty |nformat|on} on
an unsuspect|ng journa||st to be ca||ed
up whenever the need struck. W|th
the d|sks s|tt|ng under h|s desk at the
AFP bureau, Stephen eas||y cou|d
have been branded a stea|er of state
secrets. He w||| probab|y never come
back to Russ|a.
Whether true or not, |t served as a cau-
t|onary ta|e. When a cabb|e who once
p|cked me up from a report|ng tr|p to
S|ber|a began te|||ng me about h|s past
work at the lnter|or M|n|stry, and how
he had ree|s of v|deo show|ng Russ|an
m|ssteps dur|ng the Bes|an schoo|
hostage s|ege, l near|y accepted an
|nv|tat|on to h|s dacha outs|de Moscow.
Then l thought otherw|se. lnformat|on,
so hard to come by |n Russ|a, never
comes that eas||y here un|ess u|ter|or
mot|ves are at p|ay.
These are the fears fore|gn journa||sts
|n Russ|a face. As |ong as you`re
carefu|, and a|ert to the dangers, |t`s
re|at|ve|y s|mp|e to avo|d ensnarement.
Our Russ|an co||eagues aren`t so |ucky.
S|nce l`ve been |n Russ|a, so many
journa||sts have been k|||ed, or d|ed
|n myster|ous c|rcumstances. Anna
Po||tkovskaya and Anastas|a Baburova,
both reporters for Russ|a`s |ast rema|n-
|ng ||bera| newspaper, Novaya Gazeta,
were shot dead, Po||tkovskaya |n a
contract k||||ng that took p|ace |n her
apartment bu||d|ng, and Baburova as
she tr|ed to catch a contract k|||er who
had shot the ||bera| |awyer w|th whom
she was wa|k|ng after a press confer-
ence. The death of lvan Safronov, a
reporter for the Kommersant newspa-
per, who was |nvest|gat|ng shady arms
dea|s to Syr|a and lran, was offc|a||y
ru|ed a su|c|de, but near|y everyone
be||eves he was thrown out the w|ndow
he a||eged|y jumped from.
The targeted tend to be those reporters
who attack the d|rect (usua||y fnan-
c|a|} |nterests of corrupt offc|a|s and
bus|nessmen. That, |n turn, |eads to
se|f-censorsh|p. Fore|gn journa||sts a|so
fa|| prey to that. Every t|me l wr|te the
words 'Ramzan Kadyrov," the name of
the ruth|ess pres|dent of Ohechnya who
has been accused of order|ng many
k||||ngs, l doub|e and tr|p|e check that
noth|ng can be taken out of context,
that every word |s necessary. Rus-
s|an bus|nesses have become |awsu|t
happy. lts more brut|sh c|t|zens st|||
prefer the |aw of the gun.
23 Years: Reﬂections
– By Andrew Meldrum
GlobalPost Deputy Managing Editor
Robert Mugabe had been defeated
at the po||s and |t appeared h|s days |n
power were numbered. He reacted by
dep|oy|ng h|s war veterans - men who
supposed|y fought 25 years ear||er to
end wh|te-m|nor|ty Rhodes|an ru|e - to
|nvade wh|te-owned farms and beat
up supporters of the oppos|t|on party,
the Movement for Democrat|c Ohange
(MDO}. lt was March, 2000.
O|v|c |eaders, church organ|zat|ons
and women` groups, |awyers, doctors
and many others organ|zed a peace
march to urge a|| Z|mbabweans to work
together for the good of the nat|on.
Po||ce frst tr|ed to b|ock the march and
arrested a few dozen part|c|pants. But
as the numbers of marchers swe||ed
from hundreds to thousands the po||ce
re|ented and the process|on began
through downtown Harare.
l fo||owed the march, scr|bb||ng |n my
notebook deta||s ||ke the ra|nbow ban-
ners he|d a|oft and the marchers s|ng-
|ng 'G|ve peace a chance`. l |nterv|ewed
march |eaders and po||ce. When pas-
sengers on a fu|| bus saw the march
was safe, they jo|ned |n. Oonstruct|on
workers on stee| g|rders h|gh above,
waved and wh|st|ed the|r approva|. A
g|ddy, happy atmosphere rose up as
the march reached F|rst Street, the
center of Harare, |t appeared to be a
'War vets! War vets!" swept the warn-
|ng through the crowd. Down the b|ock
l saw a group of men runn|ng towards
the march, brand|sh|ng st|cks, stones
and |ron bars. l stood next to a po||ce-
man between two parked cars, tak|ng
notes of the threaten|ng band of
ORAOK! l was |y|ng on the pavement.
A |arge chunk of cement |ay by my
head. lt had apparent|y had been
hur|ed at me and knocked me out. l
staggered to my feet and a few feet
away saw a man |n convu|s|ons who
had been beaten unconsc|ous by
the rampag|ng war vets. The po||ce
were nowhere |n s|ght.
l started |nterv|ew|ng peop|e about
what had happened. l saw b|ood on
my notebook and rea||zed my head
was b|eed|ng. A fresh warn|ng came
that the war vets were return|ng for
a second attack. l crouched beh|nd
a veh|c|e |n a used car |ot and watched
as Mugabe`s supporters beat anyone
they found. The po||ce were
l stayed beh|nd the veh|c|e for some
t|me, th|nk|ng about how l had seen
Z|mbabwe change |n the 20 years
that l had ||ved and worked there, from
a country reve|||ng |n freedom and
opt|m|sm to a p|ace ru|ed by threats
and v|o|ence. l knew then that Mugabe
wou|d never accept to |eave power
peacefu||y and wou|d use any amount
of v|o|ence to stay |n offce.
l wrote a v|v|d account that day, for
the Observer, and gave near|y a dozen
phone |nterv|ews to ONN, NPR, the
BBO and other networks. But more
|mportant than gett|ng a compe|||ng
frst-hand account of a key event, l
|earned severa| |essons.
The frst was to keep my d|stance from
v|o|ence, whenever poss|b|e. Somehow
l fe|t my notebook was a sh|e|d that
protected me from v|o|ence. Prev|ous|y
whenever a s|tuat|on was vo|at||e and
my reporter`s nose took me to the cent-
er of the act|on. l |earned w|th to watch
from a safe d|stance.
l a|so |earned that many groups see the
press as an enemy and do not respect
the journa||st`s ro|e as a neutra| observ-
er. Perpetrators of state v|o|ence, for
|nstance, are threatened by a journa|-
|st`s work to document what happens.
They w||| target journa||sts for v|o|ence
|n order to s||ence the|r work.
l knew to stay at arm`s |ength from
governments, po||t|ca| part|es and other
organ|zed groups. They a|| have the|r
own agendas. Somet|mes the|r objec-
t|ves w||| ft |n w|th what l want to do as
a journa||st, but on|y up to a po|nt, and
|t |s of pr|mary |mportance for the jour-
na||st to ma|nta|n h|s/her |ndependence.
l |earned that object|v|ty on|y goes so
far. ln the case of Z|mbabwe l saw
many Amer|can journa||sts fa|| over
themse|ves |n order to try to g|ve an
object|ve portraya| of Mugabe, |.e.
to show Mugabe |n a favorab|e ||ght.
Some wrote that the peace march
provoked the war vets to attack. A||
w|tnesses agreed that the war vets
v|c|ous|y attacked a peacefu|,
The shortcom|ngs of 'report|ng both
s|des of the story" became more pro-
nounced when uncover|ng ev|dence of
systemat|c state torture |n Z|mbabwe.
The documentat|on of torture by po||ce
and other state agents was conv|nc|ng,
yet some journa||sts pers|sted |n g|v|ng
50 percent of the we|ght of the|r story
to den|a|s by Mugabe and h|s offc|a|s,
|nc|ud|ng the|r cr|t|c|sms of those who
had uncovered the torture. Such stor|es
|eft the reader to dec|pher what was
rea||y go|ng on |n Z|mbabwe.
l came to see that as a m|scarr|age of
journa||sm. l be||eve that a|| journa||sts
have a respons|b|||ty to report human
r|ghts abuses and torture. We have a
respons|b|||ty to g|ve a fa|r account and
to g|ve a|| po|nts of v|ew, but that ob-
ject|v|ty shou|d not prevent us from pre-
sent|ng damn|ng ev|dence and |ett|ng
the reader know what |s happen|ng.
(/|d|ew /e|d|0m |s G|ooa||os| Deo0|,
/a|aç||ç Ed||o|. |e wo||ed || Z|moa-
owe /o| 23 ,ea|s, mos| o/ ||a| ||me as a
/|ee|a|ce |o0||a||s| w|||||ç /o| ||e G0a|d-
|a| a|d ||e Eco|om|s|¹
Reﬂections on Foreign
Reporting and Safety.
– By Simon Wilson,
BBC Washington Bureau Chief
WASHlNGTON - l have yet to meet a
fore|gn correspondent that does not
have some k|nd of |nsecur|ty. So |et`s
get m|ne out of the way up front.
l am not a 'rea|` fore|gn correspondent.
Oh, and l`m a coward.
For more than a decade, l have had the
pr|v||ege of trave||ng the wor|d courtesy
of a be|oved emp|oyer - the BBO - and
w|tness|ng some of the defn|ng events
of our generat|on.
But l have done so, for the most part,
as a te|ev|s|on producer, a strange
hybr|d of a job wh|ch myst|fes most
peop|e. Dur|ng the course of a part|cu-
|ar|y |ong |nterrogat|on, an lsrae|| border
offc|a| summed |t up best:
'Ze reporter |s the |mportant one," she
to|d me, 'he says ze words. Ze camer-
aman he takes p|ctures. But you, what
do you do - l don`t understand". Four
hours |ater, l fear she was none the
w|ser as we were somewhat grump||y
ushered through. And to th|s day l am
st||| not sure exact|y what |t |s l do.
Except for not be|ng the |mportant one.
As for the coward th|ng, far more
e|oquent pract|t|oners than me have
wr|tten of the drug-||ke qua||ty of fore|gn
report|ng and espec|a||y of war report-
|ng. lt |s a|| true. Th|s |s a part|cu|ar|y
add|ct|ve profess|on and ||ke add|cts
we a|| make our own persona| pact
w|th the dev||. Some w||| d|ve |n fear-
|ess|y -- at |east for a t|me. Others hate
themse|ves a ||tt|e more each day for
what they are becom|ng. Some of the
heroes are the ones who turn around
and go home.
Most of us fnd some sort of uneasy
comprom|se, mak|ng what we th|nk are
reasonab|e concess|ons to fam||y and
|oved ones, wh||e st||| tak|ng r|sks wh|ch
the rest of the wor|d wou|d fnd |nsane.
Few th|ngs are certa|n |n th|s bus|ness,
but for sure gett|ng k|||ed, |njured or
k|dnapped unnecessar||y |s not a
So here are some refect|ons from
the past decade or so on t|mes spent
try|ng to stay safe w|th BBO co||eagues
|n dangerous p|aces so we cou|d do
what we came to do. They are offered
as one co||eague m|ght to another; over
a beer |n a hote| bar after a |ong day
out on the road |n some godforsaken
corner of the wor|d.
Po|nt one |s to have a p|an. lt |s
certa|n|y poss|b|e to stumb|e around
on a story and st||| do great work. But
|t |s not the percentage game. As one
ce|ebrated BBO wart|me cameraman
||ked to say: 'lf you have a p|an you can
a|ways change |t. lf you don`t have a
p|an you`re probab|y a|ready f***ed."
The p|an m|ght be as s|mp|e as: Get
up, Eat breakfast, Head for x town or
y v|||age. The |mportant th|ng |s that
someone somewhere knows where you
p|anned to start the day. lf someth|ng
goes wrong, |t g|ves them somewhere
to start |ook|ng.
ln Gaza |n 2007, there were a number
of threats fac|ng western journa||sts, |n-
c|ud|ng the r|sk of k|dnap by Pa|est|n|an
groups. As the Bureau Oh|ef respon-
s|b|e for our offce there, l had he|ped
draw up our ru|es of dep|oyment, wh|ch
|nc|uded a |engthy |etter from corre-
spondent A|an Johnston about what to
do |n the event of h|s k|dnap.
When the terr|b|e news came |n March
of that year that A|an had been taken
hostage by a shadowy ls|am|st group,
the document proved |nva|uab|e. As |s
now standard pract|ce for BBO corre-
spondents operat|ng |n H|gh R|sk areas
we had agreed code words for A|an
to g|ve to prove he was a||ve or under
duress. But just as |mportant was a
coo|-headed assessment from A|an of
who we shou|d turn to for |nformat|on,
who wou|d be ||ke|y to offer genu|ne
he|p and who wou|d be more ||ke|y to
|ead us up the garden path.
ln A|an`s case, we d|d rece|ve h|s proof
of ||fe code word through |ntermed|ar-
|es after severa| weeks, prov|d|ng some
comfort to h|s fam||y. The p|ann|ng and
preparat|on |tse|f were on|y a sma|| part
of the efforts that eventua||y |ed to h|s
safe re|ease after a|most four months.
But they were a cruc|a| start|ng po|nt
and he|ped the BBO have an e|ement
of contro| over a d|ffcu|t s|tuat|on from
A |esson that |s much harder to prepare
for, but wh|ch most exper|enced corre-
spondents w||| attest to, |s that danger
often comes from the |east expected
quarter. ln 1999, as NATO warp|anes
bombed the former Yugos|av|a, l
covered a |esser ang|e of the story from
|ns|de Montenegro, the jun|or partner |n
the Yugos|av federat|on |ed by Serb|a.
Work|ng w|th the BBO`s |egendary and
br||||ant war correspondent Br|an Bar-
ron, l was certa|n|y aware of potent|a|
dangers. NATO cru|se m|ss||es were
h|tt|ng targets at the a|rport a few m||es
from the hote| where we were stay|ng
|n the cap|ta|, Podgor|ca. One n|ght a
group of us went up to f|m them from
the roof and were ||tera||y knocked off
our feet by a ser|es of huge b|asts. On
the streets, the Yugos|av 2nd Army was
under attack and ||ab|e to take out |ts
frustrat|ons aga|nst potent|a| symbo|s of
the west, such as BBO journa||sts.
But danger was the |ast th|ng on our
m|nd one sunny spr|ng morn|ng as
we headed |nto the centra| park |n
Podgor|ca to record a p|ece to camera
- the part of a te|ev|s|on report where
the correspondent addresses the
camera d|rect|y. There was no bomb-
|ng and few troops were on the streets.
However, unbeknownst to us we had
stumb|ed |nto the area where a group
of part|cu|ar|y thugg|sh Serb|an para-
m|||tar|es was h|d|ng out.
What fo||owed was one of the nast|-
est |nc|dents l have exper|enced. A
n|ghtmar|sh ha|f-hour dr|ve |nto a forest
w|th each member of our team hav|ng
a |oaded gun pressed |nto the|r chest.
When l asked our brave |oca| trans|ator
|yd|a what was be|ng sa|d |n the car,
she rep||ed d|rect|y and rather ch||||ng|y:
'They th|nk we are NATO sp|es. They
are debat|ng whether or not to k||| us."
A few months ear||er, the BBO had
put me through our standard Host||e
Env|ronment tra|n|ng course, wh|ch
|nc|uded a remarkab|y rea||st|c mock
abduct|on. At the t|me, l had found the
who|e th|ng somewhat amus|ng. As our
veh|c|e bounced a|ong the forest tracks
and the muzz|e of a rusty-|ook|ng Ka-
|ashn|kov raked up and down my chest
|t sudden|y seemed somewhat more
to the po|nt. l remembered the adv|ce
from our tra|ners, themse|ves former
members of the Br|t|sh Spec|a| Forces:
Stay ca|m, th|nk stra|ght, keep a |ow
prof|e, try not to exacerbate the s|tua-
t|on. lt a|so he|ped hav|ng someone as
exper|enced as Br|an w|th us. Whatever
the reason, after some scary moments
we were eventua||y handed over to
the army and, after a 24-hour
l took a coup|e of |essons from that
exper|ence. F|rst|y, we had taken our
eyes off the ba|| and gone f|m|ng |n
an area that we hadn`t checked out
because |t seemed safe at frst g|ance.
Preparat|on |s everyth|ng - espec|a||y
|n te|ev|s|on where one rare|y trave|s
w|th a team of fewer than four peop|e.
Second|y, and perhaps more |mpor-
tant|y, we had g|ven ourse|ves the best
chance of emerg|ng from a nasty |nc|-
dent unscathed by stay|ng reasonab|y
coo| under pressure. lf any member of
our team, Oorrespondent, Producer,
Oameraman or |oca| fxer had tr|ed to
make a run for |t, the resu|t may we||
have been trag|c.
Another s|de of work|ng |n d|ffcu|t and
dangerous env|ronments |s the psycho-
|og|ca| effect they have on journa||sts
and the peop|e they work w|th. Oon-
s|derab|e work has been done |n recent
years on the potent|a| effects that sus-
ta|ned exposure to conf|ct can have. A
number of organ|zat|ons, |nc|ud|ng the
BBO, now rout|ne|y offer counse||ng
and other therap|es to teams return|ng
from part|cu|ar|y dangerous env|ron-
ments. Managers are a|so tra|ned to be
on the |ookout for the s|gns of trauma
One |ess exp|ored area |s the extent to
wh|ch journa||sts can |ook out for each
other |n the fe|d and |n some cases
avo|d or m|n|m|ze future prob|ems. l
remember v|v|d|y the frst t|me l was
sent to a ser|ous|y dangerous p|ace,
A|ban|a |n the spr|ng of 1997. My job
was pr|mar||y one of co-ord|nat|on and
there was ||tt|e need for me to trave| far
from our hote| |n the cap|ta| T|rana. As
the p|ace descended |nto chaos and
anarchy and the sounds of shoot|ng
came ever c|oser to the hote|, l became
a|most para|ysed w|th fear.
Fortunate|y an exper|enced o|der
co||eague rea||zed what was happen|ng
and w|th great de||cacy created a s|tua-
t|on that wou|d |nvo|ve me spend|ng the
day out on the road w|th h|m. We had
some scrapes and had to pass through
var|ous dodgy checkpo|nts. But the day
showed to me that the wor|d outs|de
the ||tt|e bubb|e l had been operat|ng |n
was not actua||y that fr|ghten|ng. From
that day on, l was ca|mer and ab|e to
concentrate on the job l was meant
to be do|ng. lt was a va|uab|e |esson
and on a number of occas|ons l have
|ntervened |n s|m||ar s|tuat|ons.
These are tough t|mes for fore|gn
journa||sts. The fnanc|a| pressures
mean that |f we are |ucky enough to
have jobs, then we are expected to f|e
more and more w|th fewer and fewer
resources. The wor|d |s a|so undoubt-
ed|y a more dangerous p|ace for us.
Through most of h|story, the b|ggest
danger fac|ng a correspondent was
to be |n the wrong p|ace at the wrong
t|me, to get caught |n someone e|se`s
crossfre. Now we ourse|ves are often
the target, whether |t |s governments
who want to d|ssuade honest and ac-
curate report|ng or m|||tant groups who
see us as an extens|on of the western
powers they hate.
So now more than ever, we need to be
both smart and organ|zed. There are
other top t|ps that one p|cks up a|ong
the road; w|th fnd|ng a trustworthy |o-
ca| fxer probab|y ch|ef amongst them.
But the greatest resources |n the fe|d
rema|n, as they a|ways been, exper|-
ence and common sense. Br|ng|ng
those to bear on the fasc|nat|ng but un-
pred|ctab|e stor|es we choose to cover
|s probab|y one of the b|gger cha||eng-
es of the job. And |f l had my t|me aga|n
w|th that lsrae|| border guard, l th|nk
that`s what l m|ght try to exp|a|n.
The Iraq War: A
– By Jane Arraf
There are t|mes - many t|mes - you
w||| wonder whether |t`s worth |t. The
un|que m|x of danger, ted|um and d|s-
comfort |s the ha||mark of war report|ng
but |t`s the added e|ement of be|ng kept
|n the dark - often ||tera||y - that w|||
make you wonder why |n the wor|d you
s|gned up to be embedded. That`s part
of the barga|n of be|ng w|th the m|||tary
- you g|ve up a|| phys|ca| freedom for
access and a mod|cum of secur|ty. And
somet|mes, no matter how much p|an-
n|ng you`ve done, no matter how many
contacts you have, you w||| fnd yourse|f
stuck |n a Brad|ey w|th seven |arge
strangers for s|x hours |n the dark wh||e
a batt|e rages on around you.
ln WWll reporters few on bomb|ng
ra|ds and sent back mora|e-boost|ng
stor|es about the troops. ln v|etnam
they moved re|at|ve|y free|y a|ong the
batt|efe|d and sent back footage and
stor|es that contr|buted to underm|n-
|ng support for the war. The m|||tary
has had an uneasy re|at|onsh|p w|th
the med|a ever s|nce. Journa||sts stuck
|n Saud| Arab|a saw very ||tt|e of the
1991 Gu|f War. By the t|me 2003 came
around, the concept of embedd|ng
reporters w|th front-||ne m|||tary un|ts
resu|ted |n what m|ght be the best-
covered conf|ct |n h|story.
F|ve years |nto the war |n lraq,
embedd|ng st||| gets you to p|aces
you cou|dn`t otherw|se get to and
|ns|ght |nto |ssues you cou|dn`t
lt`s a soda straw v|ew though that
takes work to put |nto context.
The m|||tary |s ||ke a fore|gn country.
You w||| need fr|ends there to nav|-
gate a system essent|a||y des|gned to
move huge numbers of uncomp|a|n|ng
so|d|ers and to keep out journa||sts and
other |ntruders. At worst |t can |eave
you stranded for days |n trans|t tents
wa|t|ng for he||copters that |nexp||cab|y
|eave w|thout you. At best |t |s a
front-row seat to h|story, worth
every drop of the r|sk.
A|though you w||| fnd so|d|ers and of-
fcers who be||eve as much as we do
that a free press |s essent|a| to a strong
democracy, a |ot of them dea| w|th us
because they have to - because |t`s
become part of the|r m|ss|on to engage
w|th the med|a. The m|||tary a|m - often
to get out 'good news stor|es` - and
ours - s|mp|y to get news stor|es - are
|nev|tab|y prone to co|||s|on. But un|ess
you or the person you`re dea||ng w|th
|s a tota| jerk, on a day-to-day |eve| |t
genera||y goes fne.
Be|ng accepted by the m|||tary |s a
ser|es of tests - most of them |nv|s|b|e
to us - but occas|ona||y tak|ng the form
of quest|ons such as: 'Oan you sca|e a
wa||?". At the end of the day, on a|most
a|| embeds be|ng ab|e to sca|e a wa||
|n body armor |s |ess |mportant than
forg|ng the necessary degree of trust.
The trust that wh||e what you wr|te and
report m|ght not make the m|||tary |ook
good, |t |s what actua||y happened.
F|nd|ng the ba|ance between gett|ng
c|ose to the so|d|ers you`re cover|ng
and ma|nta|n|ng the necessary degree
of d|stance |s tr|ck|er.
There are w|de|y vary|ng degrees of
access. Ün|ess you`re happy w|th
whatever they g|ve you or te|| you or
wherever they send you, be prepared
to be thought of as d|ffcu|t - part|cu-
|ar|y |f you`re a woman. There are
Don`t assume |f you`re a woman that
fema|e so|d|ers or Mar|nes are auto-
mat|ca||y go|ng to bond w|th you - not
on|y do they have the|r own prob|ems,
they`re just as ||ke|y to d|s||ke the med|a
as the next guy. One of the great
th|ngs about be|ng a fema|e reporter |n
conservat|ve soc|et|es |s that you can
ta|k to |oca| women who are often more
outspoken and cand|d than the men.
|earn some of the |anguage.
You have a better chance of s|tt|ng |n
on the OÜB - the commander`s update
br|ef - |f you know what |t |s and |ess
change of be|ng stuck on a base |f you
know how an AMR - an a|r movement
request - works. Know|ng the m|||tary
ranks and who does what |s cruc|a|.
Oover|ng the m|||tary |s often a|| about
know|ng what quest|ons to ask.
You w||| need to know more than the
so|d|ers do about the h|story and
cu|ture of the p|aces you`re |n. They are
h|gh|y attuned to the requ|rements of
stay|ng a||ve the way we are not. The
rest of |t? Not so much.
A |ot of m|n|m|z|ng r|sk |s common
sense but any tra|n|ng |s good tra|n|ng,
|nc|ud|ng the conf|ct zone courses run
for reporters. Th|nk of the worst case
scenar|o, the odds of |t happen|ng and
what you`re actua||y gett|ng out of the
r|sk you`re tak|ng. You shou|d worry
but don`t |et |t para|yze you. One of
the th|ngs you rea||y shou|d worry |n
advance though |s what w||| happen |f
you`re hurt. Embed ru|es requ|re that
you`ve arranged hea|th |nsurance. That
doesn`t even beg|n to cover
what you wou|d ||ve on |f you cou|dn`t
You w||| ||ke|y stay |n terr|b|e p|aces. lf
there |s actua| fght|ng go|ng on, there
w||| ||tera||y be no p|ace to stay except
|ns|de a Brad|ey, or M-RAP or a Stryker
or a humvee. And yes, a restroom |s
comp|ete|y out of the quest|on. Every-
one gets over the embarrassment
lt`s k|nd of a g|ven that the worse
the accommodat|ons, the better the
story. Ün|ess you are w|th the Br|t|sh.
Endur|ng the dust-r|dden, coffn-||ke
concrete bunkers w|th|n tents they stay
|n to guard aga|nst the s||ghtest r|sk
of mortar attacks guarantees you on|y
e|ther s|eep-|nduc|ng or 'you`ve-got-to-
be-k|dd|ng me` br|efngs from a pub||c
affa|rs offcer and a bew||der|ng array of
exp|anat|ons as to why you can`t get
off the base.
Apart from the ab|||ty to f|e, you don`t
rea||y need as much as you th|nk you
do. There |s noth|ng ||ke RPG rounds
and gunfre to make you rea||ze that
there are worse th|ngs than s|eep|ng on
the ground and not be|ng ab|e to take a
shower for a few days.
At the oppos|te end are what you w|||
remember |n retrospect as among
the most g|or|ous p|aces you`ve ever
stayed. Once |t was the su|te where
Rumsfe|d was put up at the v|s|-
tors` guest house where l wou|d have
jumped up and down on the g|ant bed
had l not been preoccup|ed w|th the
m|racu|ous|y fuffy towe|s |n the marb|e
bathroom. More often |t`s anywhere
that has sheets and a rea| bed and the
wonderfu| fee| of hot, runn|ng water.
You have to be prepared to see the
most horr|b|e th|ngs and fnd a reason
why |t`s worth see|ng them. lt`s tempt-
|ng to focus on death and on near-
death exper|ences but however r|vet|ng
they`re on|y a part of the story.
lf you do th|s for a wh||e |n an act|ve
war zone you w||| have been through
more frefghts and lED attacks than
many of the so|d|ers you are cover|ng.
That`s when |t may be t|me to go home.
– By William Dowell
Correspondent covering NGOs
Reporters enjoy a defn|te advantage
over d|p|omats, government offc|a|s.
The reporter |s there to wr|te what he
observes, not to make mora| judg-
ments or to push a po||t|ca| agenda.
More |mportant, the reporter |s often
the man on the spot. As the famous
Po||sh journa||st, Ryszard Kapusc|nsk|,
once put |t, 'l often found that when
l was head|ng towards the story, e
veryone e|se was mov|ng |n the
lf a d|p|omat, ta|ks to a guerr|||a |eader
or band|t, |t means that the government
he represents may be w||||ng to make a
dea|. A reporter |s s|mp|y after a good
story and for that reason he can often
go where others can`t. More |mportant,
he may be a br|dge between oppos|ng
s|des. Often these |nforma| contacts
come to naught, but occas|ona||y
they pay off.
ln the |ate 1970`s, l was str|ng|ng
for both ABO News and TlME maga-
z|ne |n Par|s, when l was ass|gned by
TlME to work on a cover story about
torture. The |dea was not to make a
mora| judgment but s|mp|y to try to fnd
out whether |t worked or not. Par|s |s
fu|| of former po||t|ca| pr|soners who
have exper|enced 'enhanced |nterroga-
t|on" techn|ques, and l qu|ck|y com-
p||ed a ||st of a dozen peop|e who had
e|ther been tortured or had someth|ng
to say about |t. One was an art|cu|ate
lran|an student |eader named Sadegh
Ghotbzadeh, who c|a|med the OlA had
been tra|n|ng the Shah`s secret po||ce
SAvAK. l never knew |f h|s a||egat|ons
were r|ght, but l ||ked h|m, and l ended
up on h|s ma|||ng ||st.
A few months |ater, l ca||ed Sadegh,
who by then was regu|ar|y commut|ng
to a Par|s|an suburb, Neauph|e-|e Oha-
teau. He had become Ayato||ah Ruho||a
Khome|ny`s man |n Par|s. On the phone
he sa|d l was we|come to attend Fr|day
prayers. Khome|ny, he sa|d, was go|ng
to turn out to be very |mportant. l had
a fr|end work|ng as a po||t|ca| offcer |n
the ÜS embassy |n Par|s. 'Have you
ta|ked w|th these guys?" l asked. 'We
can`t," he sa|d. "Everyone wou|d th|nk
that we were encourag|ng them."
A year |ater, the Shah had h|mse|f gone
|nto ex||e, and l few to Tehran to cover
the fna| stages of lran`s revo|ut|on
as part of ABO News` bureau on the
scene. W|th|n a few days, l was stand-
|ng |n the arr|va| |ounge of Tehran`s
|nternat|ona| a|rport when an A|r France
jet arr|ved w|th Khome|ny, Sadegh and
lbrah|m Yazd|, another art|cu|ate Kho-
me|n| supporter l had gotten to know |n
Par|s. Outs|de the a|rport, thousands of
peop|e had gathered |n the street.
lt was |mposs|b|e not to be moved by
the enthus|asm of the moment. Tehran,
|n the heady days |mmed|ate|y fo||ow|ng
the revo|ut|on, was both jub||ant
Wh||e d|fferent groups maneuvered for
contro| of the c|ty, one of Khome|ny`s
peop|e showed up at the hote| where
most of the reporters were stay|ng and
asked |f we wanted to go to a press
conference. We were dr|ven to a h|gh-
schoo| that Khome|ny had been us|ng
as h|s headquarters, and ushered |nto a
|arge room on the second foor. Seated
on wooden cha|rs across the front of
the room were the genera|s who had
|ed the Shah`s m|||tary forces, |nc|ud|ng
the lmper|a| Guards. Hoveda, who had
been the Shah`s pr|me m|n|ster at one
po|nt, and who had been |mpr|soned
by the Shah just before the revo|ut|on,
sat g|um|y to the s|de on a battered
wooden schoo| cha|r. Afra|d of be|ng
k|||ed |n the random chaos, he had
ca||ed Khome|ny`s men and surren-
What fo||owed was an apparent|y c|v|-
||zed deconstruct|on of the revo|ut|on
as seen by the oppos|ng s|des. lbrah|m
Yazd| moderated. When the quest|on-
|ng turned to Hoveda, Yazd| seemed to
|ose contro|. 'Adm|t that you are a war
cr|m|na|!" he screamed. Hoveda turned
to h|m ca|m|y, and sa|d,"l assume from
your tone of vo|ce that you are one of
these peop|e who are now |n charge.
A|| l can te|| you |s that s|x months
from now you w||| |ook back and fnd
that you have done th|ngs you never
thought yourse|f capab|e of."
When our sess|on ended, the genera|s
were taken to the roof of the schoo|
A few days after the execut|ons at the
schoo|, l went to the Tv stat|on to send
some sate|||te footage, and ended up
crouch|ng |n the basement as an |n-
tense frefght began outs|de. Sadhegh
was crouch|ng across the ha|| from me.
He had just been named lran`s new
fore|gn m|n|ster, and w|th h|s new post.
He sm||ed and we both wa|ted for the
shoot|ng to stop.
Not |ong afterwards, Sadegh was
edged out of power and br|efy f|rted
w|th se|||ng carpets. Then l heard that
he had been executed, a||eged|y for
agree|ng to take part |n a fa||ed coup
attempt. He had fown too c|ose to a
fame that was essent|a||y unpred|ct-
ab|e, and |n the end had been
devoured by |t.
A decade after the lran|an Revo|ut|on, l
had marr|ed, had a baby and dec|ded
that free|anc|ng was not exact|y a
sound foundat|on for ra|s|ng a fam||y.
ABO News had a|ready started down-
s|z|ng |ts European coverage, so l went
to TlME`s ch|ef of correspondents and
suggested that he p|ck the worst sh|t
ho|e |n the wor|d and h|re me as a cor-
respondent. 'lf you don`t ||ke what you
get, you can a|ways fre me after s|x
months," l reasoned. 'Actua||y, he sa|d,
'How`d you ||ke to go to Oa|ro?"
lt was the summer of 1989, and l spent
the frst few months trave||ng around
the Arab wor|d. Then l heard that
She|kh Fad|a||ah, the sp|r|tua| |eader of
H|zbo||ah, |ebanon`s lran|an-backed
Sh||te m|||t|a, m|ght be w||||ng to ta|k.
Fad|a||ah had not ta|ked to anyone unt||
then. He was be|ng b|amed for the ÜS
embassy bomb|ng wh|ch k|||ed most of
the OlA`s experts |n the reg|on, and |t
was a|so ho|d|ng Amer|can hostages,
|nc|ud|ng AP`s Terry Anderson, |n Be|-
rut. The OlA, Mossad or both, had tr|ed
unsuccessfu||y to assass|nate h|m, and
so many journa||sts had been threat-
ened or k|dnapped |n Be|rut that |nter-
nat|ona| news organ|zat|ons had agreed
en masse to a b|anket ban on report|ng
there. To make matters worse, H|zbo|-
|ah had just k|dnapped the head of the
ÜN observer force, an Amer|can Mar|ne
||eutenant co|one|, W||||am H|gg|ns, and
hung h|s body before send|ng gr|zz|y
v|deotapes of the dang||ng corpse to
|ead|ng news agenc|es.
Fad|a||ah wanted to meet |n Be|rut
desp|te the ban on report|ng there,
and he offered to arrange for transport
a|ong a secret Syr|an road bypass|ng
front|er checks. l was tempted, but
by now l`d seen enough fr|ends ||ke
Sadegh van|sh after tak|ng too many
chances. lt was not the k|nd of th|ng, l
dec|ded, that you wanted to rush |nto.
Fad|a||ah fna||y agreed to meet at a
secret |ocat|on outs|de Damascus. A
grand ayato||ah, he was dressed |n
b|ack robes and the mandatory b|ack
turban. He had d|sconcert|ng|y bu|g|ng
eyes and a |ong beard. ln contrast, h|s
men, dressed |n we|| ta||ored charcoa|
gray bus|ness su|ts and were armed
w|th s|eek Swed|sh submach|ne guns.
They pos|t|oned themse|ves beh|nd the
trees |n a p|easant|y shaded garden.
We rem|n|sced br|efy about lran`s
revo|ut|on, what |t had been ||ke at
the beg|nn|ng, and meet|ng Khome|ny
dur|ng Fr|day prayers at Neauph|e-|e
-Ohateau. F|na||y, Fad|a||ah dec|ded that
there had been enough sma|| ta|k.
'So, what do you want to know?"
'You have just shot an Amer|can
||eutenant co|one|," l sa|d. 'You
v|deotaped h|s hang|ng body and sent
the tape to the news med|a. Now eve-
ryone |n Amer|ca hates you. What d|d
you get out of that?"
Fad|a||ah paused for a moment. 'Some
of us fee| that you Amer|cans are not
rea||y |nterested |n what Amer|ca does
outs|de your country," he sa|d,"A|| you
rea||y care about |s k|ck|ng back w|th a
s|x-pack of beer and watch|ng Monday
N|ght Footba||. But what you do as a
country causes enormous pa|n |n th|s
reg|on. Some of us, l do not necessar||y
speak for myse|f, fee| that the on|y way
you can understand that pa|n |s |f you
fee| that pa|n yourse|f."
'So, where do we go from here?"
Fad|a||ah paused aga|n, choos|ng h|s
words carefu||y, "Pres|dent Rafsanjan|
and l be||eve that the hostages are no
|onger of any use to us," he sa|d. 'We
fee| that |f we cou|d show the maj||s
(lran`s par||ament} that there |s more to
be ga|ned by re|eas|ng the hostages
and turn|ng to d|p|omacy than |n ho|d-
|ng on to them, we m|ght be ab|e to |et
'What k|nd of s|gn do you need,"
Fad|a||ah exp|a|ned that the ÜS had
frozen lran|an funds |n the Hague. lf
they cou|d be re|eased, that m|ght be
When l got back to Oa|ro, l found
out that TlME had cut any ment|on
of hostages out of the |nterv|ew. lf they
had |eft that part |n and made the offer
pub||c, the ||ke||hood of a dea| m|ght
have evaporated. A few days after the
story ran l rece|ved a ca|| from |arry
He|nzer||ng, AP`s v|ce-pres|dent, who
had been ass|gned to negot|ate Terry
'l understand that you ta|ked w|th Fad-
|a||ah," He|nzer||ng sa|d.
l to|d h|m that l had and added, 'l th|nk
that |t |s someth|ng that shou|d go to
the Wh|te House."
'That |s why l am ca|||ng," he sa|d.
l faxed h|m the fu|| transcr|pt.
A few months |ater, the funds were
qu|et|y re|eased, and not |ong after that
the hostages were set free. Fad|a||ah`s
message, |t turned out, had been on|y
one of a w|de array of s|gna|s from the
lran|ans that they were w||||ng to make
a dea|. The |mportant th|ng |n th|s case
|s that someone was there to ||sten.
Be|ng there |s what |t |s a|| about.
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