Monday, December 1, 2008

Fascinating First Person Accounts

I always enjoy first person reporting just a tiny bit more. Yes arguably, and more than probably, it ruins a bit of the reporter's objectivity but I enjoy it because the reporter or author is telling the story of what actually happened to them not what it looked like after they arrived or what eye-witnesses, victims and the like had to say.

Unfortunately, although in a perhaps circumstantially necessary way, we tend to get this type of reporting and storytelling in relation to disasters (think NPR's coverage of the Chinese earthquake earlier this year).

Which brings me to two stories from the weekend.

A piece in the WaPo on the still unfinished (how can that possibly be) debate over torture in the Outlook section, written by an American interrogator whose investigation tracked down AbuMusab al-Zarqaw i, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq without resorting to torture or other circumspect techniques which the author stresses don't work. We've already heard lots on this topic but much of it comes from politicians and academics and occasionally so-called interrogation experts but this is the first run down on tactics and results in Iraq and against al-Qaeda targets provided by someone involved.

Less interesting and informative as a whole, but fascinating nonetheless, is the story of a bombing attempt on the NPR crew in Baghdad. Their armored BMW was destroyed and they were narrowly warned away from the car by Iraqi troops who had received a tip. Car-bombings and assassinations are nothing new in Baghdad but it lends a new perspective to the reporting when the reporter has personally experienced the story. (the pictures are very impressive)

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