Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Rolling home on the subway, I read the New York Times' take on the suicide attack Monday on a banquet encouraging reconciliation in Iraq. I am astounded that both papers have managed to write essentially the same article--describing the scene of the bomber blowing himself up amidst the banquet, killing 16, including Diyala Province's governor, the region's police chief and a military commander; then reporting that Iran closed its border on Kurdistan because the military arrested an alleged Iranian diplomat.

The Washington Post depended on "news agencies" and four Iraqi reporters, one who goes unnamed. The Times used three Iraqi reporters, on call from Baghdad, and the perfunctory "Iraqi employees of The New York Times" team at Baquba and Sulaimaniya. Oh yeah...the Post's Sudarsan Raghavan and the Times' Andrew E. Kramer also both did some work too, wrote it up, then won the by-lines.

I am miffed. I don't keep track of the Washington Post's Iraq coverage so much as the The New York Times, so mainly I'm aiming my ire at the Times. They have depended on "Iraqi employees of The New York Times" for years. I understand that naming them puts their lives at risk. And reporters like Damien Cave, Alissa J. Rubin and Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns have always done a bang-up job. But handing out a by-line to one individual for "all hands on deck" assignments looks totally fraudulent. If you've checked out the Times' Iraq page recently, especially that interactive graphic of Baghdad, you can tell these Iraqi reporters have been working their asses off.

So our paper of record should give credit where credit is due. Get rid of that single by-line trend, or somehow be specific about who did what.

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