Thursday, October 11, 2007

WTF Iraq - Interview with Ashley Gilbertson

Half an hour video here. (Another excellent find from 3Quarks, by the way.)
Ashley Gilbertson did not aim to become a war journalist.
He was already there, among the Kurds, before the invasion and downfall of Saddam. A photographer by trade, he comes across as an adventurous, creative young man who was hit full in the face with war and all that comes with it.

This is a powerful piece of video.
Don't expect the Totten/Yon treatment. This war is not all about pictures and anecdotes.
This is straightforward journalism at its best, not to be missed. This is from the Google Video thumbnail ID:

Ashley Gilbertson photographs the war in Iraq for the New York Times. He talks about the invasion of Iraq, the battle for Falluja, the Marines he worked with, post-traumatic stress disorder, Iraqi civilians, and the future of photojournalism. His work is available in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War published by the University of Chicago Press

Here is a short transcript (25:28)...

Interviewer: What would you say is the future of photo-journalism in the Iraq War?

Gilbertson: It's becoming harder and harder by the day to accurately cover the war. It's easier to go there and hang out in chow halls and photograph [unintelligible] or you can be out on patrol...but the story has changed...Iraq is in the grooves of a civil war today and we nor the Iraqi press really have no access to that. There are no embed programs for the Sunni insurgency or the death squads. And everybody who is involved in the civil war is trying to hide what they're doing because they're all somehow related either to other governmnents or the Baghdad government. There's a lot to hide there, and that does not lend itself to photography at all. We can still embed with American troops and that will give us some window into what's happening on the street, except...I mean the story really is Shiite on Sunni violence, and the only access we have to that is corpses on the street. We don't get to see the fights, we dont't get to see the executions...unless Al Qaeda releases a video on the Internet.The future of photography, and reporting for that matter, is best. Even Iraqis go out and do the most brave and dangerous work...are getting killed, whether it is by Iraqis or by Americans...or imprisoned. I mean it's so phenominally dangerous its completely off the charts. And that's impeding on the quality of reporting coming from Iraq. It's very, very hard to have an idea, and particularly a visual idea, of what's taking place there.

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