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Behind The Scenes In Iraq

Last night I headed uptown for a panel called "Assignment Iraq," which was held in conjunction with the release of Columbia Journalism Review's 45th anniversary issue. The issue is an oral history of the Iraq war from the perspective of 47 journalists who have covered it, and at the panel five of them spoke about their experiences: Deborah Amos of NPR; Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post; Ali Fadhil, an Iraqi doctor turned translator/stringer for western journalists; freelancer Patrick Graham, who spent a year in Fallujah; and photojournalist Chris Hondros.

A lot of the evening involved the journalists simply telling stories from their time in Iraq. It was fascinating stuff. Much of the media criticism and analysis of this war has come from people who have not been there, so it was particularly refreshing to listen to people who have the experience to know what they are talking about tell their stories – stories about holidays in Fallujah, the driver mafia that manipulates Western journalists, and the way Iraqis see Americans.

The page CJR has put up for its (excellent) special issue is here. Have a look. On the left side of the page, you'll find an MP3 of last night's panel. If you're interested in what's really going on in Iraq, it's very much worth a listen.

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