In Praise of McClatchy

December 30, 2007

McClatchy Newspapers, the third-largest chain in the country, regularly shames its competitors with alert, skeptical coverage of the Iraq invasion that refuses to take Bush administration statements at face value and focuses on the daily lives in Iraqis caught in the crossfire. In the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing sings the praises of this valuable news organization:

In the months leading up to the Iraq war, when most news organizations were dutifully relaying the Bush administration’s claims about the threat posed by Iraq, Knight Ridder/McClatchy ran several stories questioning their accuracy. Since the invasion, the company has run a lean but resourceful operation in Baghdad. All three of its bureau chiefs have been young Arab-American women with some fluency in Arabic. At home in the cultures of both the West and the Middle East, they have been adept at interpreting each to the other.

From the start, the McClatchy bureau has made a special point of reporting on the lives of ordinary Iraqis and on the impact the war has had on them. To help it do so, it has relied heavily on its Iraqi staff. It currently has five Iraqi members—former teachers, doctors, and office managers who, joining the staff as translators and “fixers,” have received on-the-job training as reporters. In this, McClatchy is not unique. As the danger to Western reporters in Iraq has mounted, US news organizations have turned to local reporters and stringers to help gather the news. (The work is even more dangerous for them than it is for Westerners; according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, of the 124 journalists who have been killed since the start of the Iraq war, 102 have been Iraqis.)

Thanks to Massing, I now know that McClatchy also sponsors a blog called Inside Iraq, written by its Iraqi staff members. I’m delighted to add Inside Iraq to my Middle East blogroll, for whatever that’s worth, as a source of real information on a war launched with lies, sustained by power fantasies and watered with blood.

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