For its forty-fifth anniversary the Columbia Journalism Review published an oral history of the war in Iraq as seen through the eyes of some fifty journalists who covered it. The result is a unique and compelling narrative about the conflict itself and about the learning curve of the reporters and photographers who have covered what is clearly the most significant and difficult story of our time.

“About five hundred people turned on us instantly and surged. I remember an old man saying, ‘Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!’” — Dexter Filkins, The New York Times

In conjunction with this special November issue, the magazine presented an evening of conversation with some of those reporters at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

“If you look back at how things were reported in that first year, it was pretty close to the way the U.S. government wanted it to be presented, which was, “It’s not so bad. It’s coming along. We’ve got a few criminals but we’re handling it.” — Patrick Graham, Freelance writer

These journalists worked in Iraq under circumstances that nearly defy belief. They have studied what Iraqis call “the situation” closely, some of them for four years or more, and they know things we should all know.

“The foreign press corps, maybe a group of about twenty or thirty people who go to Iraq regularly, know more about Iraq than anybody. More than the people stuck inside the Green Zone. More than the military behind their barbed wire.” — Anne Barnard, The Boston Globe

Panelists

At the panel discussion, five journalists discussed their experiences with the war. They included:

  • Deborah Amos: Foreign correspondent for NPR and ABC News. Author of Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and Remaking of the Arab World, a memoir of her experience covering the Gulf War 1991.
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran: Washington Post assistant managing editor, former Baghdad bureau chef, and author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City, about the occupation and the disconnect between the occupiers and the Iraqis.
  • Ali Fadhil: A physician and translator. He has collaborated with journalists from The Financial Times, Time, The Guardian, People, The Observer, The New Yorker and NPR. Fadhil is currently working on an Iraq film that will be aired on PBS Frontline next year.
  • Patrick Graham: Canadian freelance journalist who spent a year with the Iraqi resistance in Fallujah. His work has appeared in The London Observer, Harpers and other publications. Previously he was a foreign reporter for The National Post.
  • Chris Hondros: A prizewinning photojournalist whose work has appeared on the covers of magazines such as Newsweek and The Economist, and on the front pages of most major American newspapers.

 

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