Citizen journalist killed in Iraq

{ Those of us that were in the room during the ‘Video’ session at the Networked Journalism conference in October remember witnessing Brian Conley of Alive in Baghdad basically make a plea to anyone from the numerous large, profitable news organizations at the conference to help out the cause of citizen journalism in Iraq with a contribution.

A call quickly went out to everyone in the building – the notion was that if 4 or 5 people could throw down $4,000 or $5,000 each, that would keep Alive In Baghdad going a while longer. }


Late Friday night @baghdadbrian sent out a message on Twitter that an Alive in Baghdad correspondent had been killed.

He was Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi, 22.  He was shot 31 times.  It’s not clear if his death was related to the story he was working on for Alive in Baghdad.

Here’s a clip from the post on the AIB blog:

“Ali lived in Habibya, it’s considered as a part of the Sadr city. On Friday the 14th at 11:30pm Baghdad time, Iraqi National Guard forces raided the street where Ali’s house is, one of the neighbors heard a gun firing after 15 minutes from the arrival of the Iraqi National Guard convoy to the street, the force left at 3:00am.”

No matter what your politics are or what you think about this war, if you’re reading this post, the odds are good you believe it’s a good idea to put communication tools in the hands of the people around the world who have the hardest time getting the most important stories to our eyes and ears and hands.

That doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to do — or a safe one.

Put your money where your mouth is: Chip in to help this 22-year-old kid’s family bury him.

Everybody’s Talking Heads

I’ve seen David Byrne’s blog post about a visit to the New York Times in too many places today to figure out where I saw it first.

Here’s my favorite graf:

“At present, it is mostly the ads in the Style section, and the glossy Sunday and T magazines that pay for a disproportionate amount of the newspaper’s running costs. Without the income from Gucci and Rolex, there probably wouldn’t be a Baghdad bureau. (That’s an exaggeration, but that’s the idea.)”

This would make great fodder for any number of grad classes I took at SJSU, especially Bill Briggs’ International Communications class.

Such a hard question. In theory, advertising for the luxury goods at the heart of the darkest corners of the American Dream is what’s paying for the continued survival of some of the most influential pieces of free press in the world.

Interesting little cycle.

Salam Pax audio is online

One of the Salam Pax talks in San Jose last month is now online as a Commonwealth Club podcast here. It looks like the audio will also be on KQED (88.5 FM in the Bay Area). You can find the story I wrote for the Daily on his talk at SJSU here.

An excerpt from the Daily:

Although it was hard for Pax, who studied architecture, to see some of his favorite buildings destroyed, he said there was a sort of “euphoria” in the air when the war started.
“I was one of the people that were convinced there was absolutely no way we could get rid of Saddam on our own,” Pax said. “We had to basically make a deal with the devil.”
Pax said accepting foreign intervention in Iraq meant accepting a violent conflict.
“All you can do is cross your fingers and hope you don’t die during that war,” he said.

Related: Jeff Jarvis is trying to raise money to send an Iraqi blogger to J-School at CUNY, where Jarvis heads the new graduate program.

Hey Iraq, mind if we write your newspapers for you? Thanks, Uncle Sam.

Today’s LA Times reports that “the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.”

Oh. Okay. So we talk and talk and talk about all the democracy we’re giving the Iraqis, but in the meantime, the usual propaganda routes aren’t enough — I mean, creating our own Arab-language television network just to report on all the happy-goodness going on in Iraq isn’t enough, right? — so now our military has taken the step of paying to place favorable stories written by Americans into Iraqi papers.

It gets worse. Check out the fifth paragraph of the LAT story:

The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets.

What? Let me get this straight — our soldiers are writing the stories, and then we (US taxpayers) are paying a contractor to do the translation and then sneak the stories into the Iraqi paper by any means necessary.

Great. Message to Iraqis: You’ll think what we tell you to think, and you’ll write what we tell you to write, and you’ll read what we tell you to read.

Is this how democracy works?

[tags]Iraq, newspapers, journalism[/tags]