War reporting requires the best

Andrew Mueller waves a piece of paper; Photo ©: Guy Smallman

War reporting veteran Andrew Mueller says "There would be a lot more Abu Ghraibs if there were no embedded journalists"

HOW WOULD David Crouch, chair of Media Workers Against War (MWAW), like to see Iraq and Afghanistan reported, the February  London Freelance Branch meeting asked. "We campaign for better journalism, not anti-war reporting. There are some very brave pro-war journalists; some anti-war reporting is very sloppy."

David says the media tends to "take at face value" government agendas. He cited the February 11 New York Times headline, "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made by Iran". Dissident US news website Huffington Post  replied with a question - has the New York Times learned nothing from the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) - and quoted the New York Times apology for the original 2003 WMD debacle. The Telegraph headline of January 24, "Iran preparing the new Bin Laden", had "no substantiation other than 'military sources say'..."

Freelance journalist Andrew Mueller "did the Balkans, Northern Ireland, West Africa": "I try to do good journalism, not pro- and anti-war journalism.".

I've been independent and embedded... there's almost no way to do Iraq without being embedded, it's not as sinister as it is portrayed. I was quite surprised, with the Welsh Guards... we did push our luck but no one said 'no' to any request... We were allowed into meetings with a commander and with a local governor." Andrew's advice is: "Be personally respectful with people. I don't agree terribly much with Hezbollah, but after a few days I was able to say that I thought things they said were completely insane, and they would defend them... If I'd seen the Guards company doing anything dreadful I'd have reported it. There would be a lot more Abu Ghraibs if there were no embeds".

Guy Smallman, who has photographed in Iraq and Lebanon, emphasized the safety aspects of war reporting. "Make sure your story gets out, that you stay safe and stay alive.". War reporters need "a really good fixer... Sit down with the person who's helping you, go through the ground rules and make sure you can trust them".

Guy also advises, "Talk to the locals. If you talk to people you will hear a far more realistic view of what's going on".

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