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September 6, 2009
News and No NewsBy Greyhawk
Is this story true? I haven't found any other reports:
Kunduz, Afghanistan - A New York Times journalist visiting the site of the deadly Nato airstrike in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz was kidnapped along with his Afghan interpreter on Saturday, the provincial governor said.
No word on that in the American media - generally for a major story that's an indication the report might not be completely trustworthy. However, in the past these types of stories have been suppressed, so no similar conclusion can be drawn here.
Multiple sources in Afghanistan tell me that The New York Times is attempting to suppress the reporting on Farrell's kidnapping. The New York Times did the same thing when journalist David Rohde was kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan late last year. Rohde was released earlier this year after escaping from a Haqqani Network compound in North Waziristan.
If the story is true, as Bill points out, "The kidnapping of Farrell serves only to highlight the deteriorating security situation in the northern province of Kunduz (and neighboring Baghlan)"
On the larger matter of suppressing news, the New York Times does have this letter from Secretary Gates to Thomas Curley, President and CEO of the Associated Press:
Mr Thomas Curley President and Chief Executive Officer Associated Press 450 West 33rd Street New York, NT 10001
Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher responds at the Huffington Post:
"Top papers such as The New York Times, Washington Post and L.A. Times carried the AP story, but not the image." Mitchell tells us - but what he doesn't say (because he wants you to
By Mitchell's logic, did Rohde's "shameful reluctance, even refusal" to allow his captors to use him as the star in a snuff porn video deny the media a chance to "show the true cost of our wars to Americans"?
Did he fail as a reporter?
Back to you, Greg.
While we wait for further understanding of the stories above, here's something to ponder. Back in late March, 2004, "video was obtained" by the media of the killing and mutilation of American contractors in Fallujah, Iraq. The story then:
Every news organization that shared the video or still clips with their viewers or readers had their own reasons for doing so. "While showing the images could erode support for the war, not showing them could have an opposite effect", the LA Times explained. Other professionals weighed in, too.
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, said "the pictures from Wednesday's attack could anger viewers or engender disenchantment about the war."
John Schulz, dean of Boston University's College of Communications and a former faculty member at the National War College: "These are the kinds of pictures that will linger, they'll be there in November when people go to vote."
That November, people reelected George Bush.
But here's the Brookings Institute's graph of American casualties in Iraq from 2003-2007, I've placed a vertical line on March, 2003:
The two peaks are the battles in Fallujah, but aside from those there's an obvious "before and after".
Previously: AP is 'truly appalling' - UPDATED
A sampling of related posts:
Posted by Greyhawk / September 6, 2009 2:05 PM | Permalink
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November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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