Reporting Overseas: Why It's Worth Dying For

Bill Keller talks about the importance of international reporting

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 3, 2012 1:59 PM CST

(Newser) – While reading a piece on the death of ambassador Chris Stevens recently, New York Times columnist Bill Keller hit on a line that hit rather close to home. The death was described as "the occasional price of a noble but risky profession." For a Times veteran, that sounded all too familiar. On the 15th floor of the Grey Lady's headquarters, "meeting rooms are named for Times journalists who died pursuing the news," Keller explains. "We are running out of rooms."

That's led the Times to beef up security on its journalists, much as the US is beefing up security on its ambassadors. And Keller worries that in so doing, "we could lose a dimension in our reporting." Citizen journalism can help, "but tweets are no substitute for being there." How did the CIA get its facts wrong on Benghazi? It might have read the Wall Street Journal, AP, Washington Post, CNN, or, yes, the New York Times, which all initially called the attack a protest-turned-ugly. Every one of those reports "had a dateline somewhere other than Benghazi. ... I strongly suspect that one reason Susan Rice got it wrong at the outset is that most of us in the press weren’t there." Click for his full piece.

People pass the New York Times building in New York, Oct. 10, 2012.
People pass the New York Times building in New York, Oct. 10, 2012.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The New York Times headquarters is shown Tuesday, April 21, 2009, in New York.
The New York Times headquarters is shown Tuesday, April 21, 2009, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Make no mistake, some portion of the information governments call 'intelligence' is nothing more than an attentive reading of the news. - Bill Keller, on the importance of
having foreign correspondents on the ground when news happens

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