Chandrasekaran reports on war zone in Iraq

October 16, 2006

October 16, 2006 — Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post and the author of Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, discussed the challenges and risks of reporting from a war zone, at the Shorenstein Center’s brown-bag lunch.

Chandrasekaran began reporting from Iraq in the beginning of 2002. “In those early days, it was like a dream to be a journalist in Iraq,” he said, noting that at the time journalists were able to move with relative freedom throughout the country. It was a moment, he said, when foreign correspondents were able to get a “ground truth.”

But by the spring of 2004, areas outside the U.S. military’s “Green Zone” were too dangerous for foreign journalists. Chandrasekaran estimated that 98 percent of the country is now off limits to reporters.

The result is that Americans are not getting “the full story of what’s going on on the ground.” Reporters could better analyze the long term effects of violence if they could discover “to what extent are cultural bonds [among Iraqis] being trumped by sectarian bonds.”