'Some sneer wrongly at Green Zone journalism'

They wore body armour, they had the army around them and years of experience behind them. They were brave, but they weren't foolish.

They were doing their job, doing it better than most, doing it better than me.

The last three times I've been to the Iraqi capital were January 2005, December 2005 and March 2006.

On each occasion, I've made sure I didn't have to drive in and out of the airport road and instead have "choppered"

into the Green Zone and then stayed there.

Even that's scary enough: the mad spiral into the airport to avoid surfaceto- air missiles, the wild helicopter flight with machine-gunners scanning the streets, and heat-deflecting flares fired off in case someone was shooting at us.

Even in the Green Zone, the occasional mortar flew in — it's a big place and it was usually "noises off" but it adds to the thought, "What am I doing here?"

The answer is "my job, as best as I can". Some people sneer at "Green Zone journalism".

They are wrong to do so. You get a sense of how bad it is on the real streets, and you get a chance to talk face-to-face with officials, some of whom will tell you (off-camera) what they really think the situation is like.

Paul and James were out there, day after day, taking their chances. Other media companies are doing the same thing and they are doing the best they can in the circumstances.

At Sky, we make irregular trips, usually to Baghdad or Basra, and we recently embedded Peter Sharp with the US Special Forces in the Western Desert.

Last year David Chater was embedded for the battle of Falujah. Sky also has local staff, our heroes, whom we call on regularly.

Can we report properly? No. Can anyone? No. And the fault? Not the media's — but those that seek to murder them. And so we do what we can.

Each company commits the resources it feels it can, each individual the risk he or she feel they can make.

Paul and James were fully committed.

I knew them both, not well, but enough to share a joke with. My heart goes out to their relatives.

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