October 16, 2005: Headlines: COS - Togo: Iraq: Journalism: DesMoinesRegister.com,: Togo RPCV George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Togo: Peace Corps Togo : The Peace Corps in Togo: October 16, 2005: Headlines: COS - Togo: Iraq: Journalism: DesMoinesRegister.com,: Togo RPCV George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker

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Togo RPCV George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker

Togo RPCV  George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker

A Yale graduate who served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, Packer has written about the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone, civil unrest in the Ivory Coast and the Al-Jazeera Arabic news network. He won two Overseas Press Club awards for his coverage of Iraq and of the civil war in Sierra Leone.

Togo RPCV George Packer writes about Iraq for the New Yorker

New Yorker staff skips Dubuque, heads to Iowa City

Magazine writers hit the road with campus conversations.


October 16, 2005

When Harold Ross founded the New Yorker in 1925, he famously said, the New Yorker will not be edited for "the little old lady in Dubuque."

Gee, Harold, thanks for the elitist snub.

But over the years, the magazine became one of the most esteemed in the world, increased circulation to more than 1 million and made amends with Iowa.


Tough to get full news amid violence in Iraq

George Packer, who will be featured at a roundtable discussion titled “Searching for the Story” at noon Monday at Iowa Memorial Union, has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since May 2003.

A Yale graduate who served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, Packer has written about the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone, civil unrest in the Ivory Coast and the Al-Jazeera Arabic news network. He won two Overseas Press Club awards for his coverage of Iraq and of the civil war in Sierra Leone.

His most recent book, “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq,” was published this month. Part of the book already was published in The New Yorker and is available at www.newyorker/archive.

Q. You've been to Iraq, Togo, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Have you ever been to Iowa?
A. I went to Des Moines to meet the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, Kurt Frosheiser. Iowa was beautiful. We drove from Des Moines toward the Illinois border. It was gorgeous.

Q. What is it about Iraq that Americans don't understand?
A. It's been hard for Americans to accept how complicated it is there. Most Americans want an up-down, yes-no answer to whether we're right or wrong, succeeding or failing. Certainly the summer of 2003 when I was reporting that piece it was anything but simple. What interested me most was how Iraqis and Americans viewed each other. There were misunderstandings and suspicions, but a fair amount of good will on both sides and a desire to reach out and find out who these other people were. That has changed. The violence is so enormous.

Q. How would you change things if you had all the power?
A. I would force everyone to subscribe to The New Yorker. (He laughs.) It's so embedded now, it's hard to imagine any change that someone who's all-powerful could enact. People are busy. Television dominates. Television works by dramatic images and sound bites. The long magazine article or book has a very hard time making itself heard in this clamor of talking heads.

Q. How do you cut through that?
A. All you can do is report and write honestly and well and hope people respond. People I hear from feel let down by both politics and media. I get letters saying it's so difficult to find balance and depth, so difficult to know what's really going on there. People are not rioting in streets, but this is a more partisan age than Vietnam. People just kind of want to know which team you're on. It takes an active, individual, strenuous effort (to open one's self to understanding). Everything in our culture is conspiring to close it.

Q. What is it about Iraq that the American media isn't reporting?
A. It's not that they're not reporting it. I read the Times, the Post, the newsweeklies, the monthly magazines, and there's a lot of information. The biggest problem reporting in Iraq is you can't talk to Iraqis without putting yourself and them at risk. You can't walk the streets or go to a restaurant or go to someone's home. So inevitably the point of view of the Iraqis starts to disappear in stories. Honest journalists say they don't know what's going on with Iraqis in this stage of the war. So many parts of Iraq journalists just can't go. Every journalist has the nightmare of kidnapping in the back of his mind.

When this story was posted in October 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: DesMoinesRegister.com,

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Togo; Iraq; Journalism


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