WaPo Baghdad bureau chief Ellen Knickmeyer responded to a recent E&P article which covered New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins stating that 98% of Iraq, and even most of Baghdad, has now become “off-limits” for Western journalists.
The following are excerpts from Knickmeyer’s letter to E&P:
It is critical in judging the quality of reporting in Iraq to know how much of it the reporter has actually seen for himself or herself; and therefore it critical for us to be explicit how much we as reporters are seeing or not seeing for ourselves.
I’m writing for that reason, to say that the range of reporting people do for themselves in Iraq varies enormously from person to person and organization to organization, and that some of us here actually get out quite a lot. Unfortunately, the people and organizations who go out the least here in Iraq often seem to speak the loudest, perhaps to justify publicly their decision not to go out.
It ought to be a little clear in the bylines, datelines and credit lines: when American reporters do the reporting by themselves, our credit lines and bylines reflect that, and when we have help, they reflect that.