Thursday, January 27, 2005

Off to the show 

So long mom, I'm off to grease a palm:

Network anchors head to Iraq for election
But fewer journalists willing to take on dangerous assignment

The big-name anchors are staging their own Iraq invasion this week, with NBC's Brian Williams, CBS's Dan Rather, Fox News's Shepard Smith and CNN's Anderson Cooper among those planting the network flag in the days before Sunday's tension-filled elections. But the temporary airlift comes at a time when major news organizations are having trouble persuading reporters to take on the high-risk assignment on a longer-term basis.

"The people who have experience there are exhausted," says Marjorie Miller, foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times. "It's terribly dangerous in ways that other wars haven't been. You could always get killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here, just by being a westerner, you're perceived, or fear you're perceived, as a partisan. Reporters don't want to be seen as partisan at a cost of their lives."

Tim McNulty, the Chicago Tribune's assistant managing editor for foreign news, agrees. "The pool of people willing to go has steadily shrunk over the last two years," he says. "The number of people who have spent a good deal of time there have said they've done their time and are not eager to go back. . . . If they say no, I don't ask the reasons."

Draft the Fighting 101st Keyboarders into action. Give em all cute little fanny packs and Power Line blogger action patches to sew onto their Serengeti Safari-shirt sleeves. They can follow Dan Rather around and make sure he isn't doctoring his minibar tab.


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