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Posts Tagged ‘David Rohde’

Polk Awards Focus On War In Middle East


The 2009 George Polk made history yesterday by announcing its first ever anonymous winners: the men and/or women who captured the footage of Iranian protester Neda Agha-Soltan dying after being shot during the controversial reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June. John Darnton of the Polk Awards called the video “an iconic image of the Iranian resistance.” Other winners of the highly-esteemed journalism award include David Rohde for his five-part New York Times series on being captured and held by the Taliban for seven months, and the Stars and Stripes trio of Charlie Reed, Kevin Baron and Leo Shane III for their piece on a secret Pentagon program meant to reward journalists who covered the war in a positive light.

Read More: Filmers of Iran Protest Death Win Polk Award in NY — New York Times, Files prove Pentagon is profiling reporters — Stars and Stripes

Previously: Kidnapped Journalist Rohde Answers Readers’ Questions

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Rohde On Charlie Rose: “My Days As A War Correspondent Are Over”

Last night, Charlie Rose interviewed New York Times reporter David Rohde about his Taliban kidnapping and the five-part series he wrote about the ordeal last week.

About three-quarters of the way through the interview, Rose asked Rohde about the news media blackout that took place while he was being help captive. Rohde said he ultimately agreed with the decision:

“I think it was the right decision. My captors were delusional about what they thought they could get for me…I think keeping it out of the news was correct. There are certain stories — a witness who wants to remain anonymous in a murder trial, a rape victim we won’t publicize, journalists don’t publicize American tactics when they’re embedding with American troops — so if there is a request to a news organization — and I, I’m a reporter, I want to make things public — but if there is a request to a news organization and it would potentially impact someone’s life, I think it’s responsible to not run the story.”

Near the end of the interview, Rose asked Rohde how his family could be certain that he wouldn’t end up getting kidnapped again — for the third time. “My days as a war correspondent are over,” Rohde declared. Then he started to fight back tears. “I think its the only fair thing to do to [my family] after what’s happened. I was lucky and I don’t want to put them through this again.”

Watch the full video above.

Related: NYT Public Editor Tackles Decision To Keep Rohde Kidnapping Quiet

Freed Newsweek Reporter Bahari Gives A Glimpse Of Life In Iranian Prison

bahari.pngThis week we were captivated by David Rohde‘s tale of kidnapping and escape, but there are many more journalists around the world who have been kidnapped or arrested who remain detained today.

Until recently, Newsweek‘s Maziar Bahari was among them. Kidnapped in Iran without explanation in June, Bahari was released by the Iranian authorities just last week.

Newsweek got a little peek into what Bahari’s days in captivity were like in an exclusive Web article this week:

“For day after day, month after month, following his imprisonment in Iran on June 21, documentary filmmaker and Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari did not see the face of his interrogator. Bahari, 42, was blindfolded or faced a wall as the accusations and questions — often it was hard to tell the difference — kept coming at him. And always the interrogator told him the same thing: ‘No one on the outside cares about you. Everyone has forgotten you.’ Nothing could have been further from the truth.”

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Rohde’s Kidnapping Chronicle Ends With Incredible Escape

rohde.jpgThe final piece of New York Times journalist David Rohde‘s Taliban kidnapping narrative was published today. It was the last piece we were waiting for — a description of his daring escape with Afghan journalist Tahir Luddin.

Rohde’s story would make an excellent adventure novel, but the reality of his captivity makes it too scary. In the last chapter of this five-part series, he recounts how he and Luddin used a rope to climb over the 15-foot wall surrounding a compound where they were being held in Pakistan, in the dead of night:

“Tahir tied the rope to the wall surrounding the roof. Placing his toe between two bricks, he climbed to the top and peered at the street below.

‘The rope is too short,’ he whispered after stepping down.

I shifted the knot on the rope to give it more length, pulled myself up on the wall and looked down at the 15-foot drop. The rope did not reach the ground, but it appeared close.

I glanced back at the stairs, fearing that the guards would emerge at any moment.

‘We don’t have to go,’ I repeated to Tahir. ‘It’s up to you.’

I got down on my hands and knees, Tahir stepped on my back and lifted himself over the wall. I heard his clothes scrape against the bricks, looked up and realized he was gone.

I grabbed his sandals, which he had left behind, and stuffed them down my pants. I climbed over, momentarily snagged a power line with my foot, slid down the wall and landed in a small sewage ditch. I looked up and saw Tahir striding down the street in his bare feet. I ran after him.”

Our heart just beat right out of our chest.

And whatever happened to Rohde’s driver Asad Mangal, who didn’t escape with Rohde and Luddin? He survived to escape later, as Rohde reveals in his epilogue

A Rope and a PrayerNew York Times

Kidnapped Journalist Rohde Answers Readers’ Questions

rohde.jpgAs a companion to his moving five-part series about his Taliban kidnapping, The New York Times reporter David Rohde is answering readers’ questions on the paper’s “At War” blog.

Although we have found Rohde’s first person account of his captivity fascinating and informative, readers have lashed out at him and the Times for taking a careless risk that led to his kidnapping, and then wasting the paper’s and the U.S. government’s money in the search and rescue effort.

Others also questioned the Times decision to suppress news of Rohde’s kidnapping. Would they do the same if someone besides a Times reporter was in the same position? Executive editor Bill Keller spoke to those queries on the blog:

“Our policy is that we honor the requests of organizations — civilian or military, domestic or international — to withhold information of kidnappings. When we learn of a kidnapping, it is our policy to reach out to the organization in question or to law enforcement agencies before publishing the information. This is not a policy that applies only to journalists, or only to New York Times journalists. Sometimes, of course, news of a kidnapping becomes so widespread that it is pointless not to report it. Sometimes an organization that has had someone taken captive decides that publicity is simply inevitable, or might help secure the freedom of hostages…In the case of David and his Afghan colleagues, we had an added reason to keep quiet at the outset. In one of the first calls to our Kabul bureau, the kidnappers warned us not to publicize the crime. I don’t know how to reconcile that with their craving for attention except to say that we got a lot of mixed, even contradictory, messages from the captors. At the time, we had no reason not to take their call to keep quiet as a serious threat.”

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Must Read: Rohde Recounts Seven Months In Captivity

rohde.jpgFour months after heroically escaping from his Taliban kidnappers, New York Times reporter David Rohde has decided to tell the story of his seven months in captivity in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rohde’s five-part series, “Held by the Taliban,” debuted yesterday and will continue all week. His recollection of his kidnapping is frightening and moving — a reminder of the dangers reporters in war torn territories face every day. With each word, you have to remind yourself that Rohde managed to survive, otherwise it would be too difficult to read.

“Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become,” Rodhe writes. “They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.”

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Social Ad Summit Report: Wikipedia Founder On Helping Kidnapped Journos

social ad summit 2.jpg

Don Draper may not have been in attendance, but Monday’s panels on advertising and the Internet at the Social Ad Summit at the New World Stages certainly had its fair share of slick sellers. Did you know that one in three people working in new media are developing Facebook applications? That might be an exaggeration, but you wouldn’t have known it from the breadth of panel topics, which ranged from “Facebook Fan Page Success: Superpowered Fan Growth” to “Show Me the Money!: Measuring Social Media ROI.”

The main speaker of the day was Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. Though Wales espoused on topics from Everything Bad is Good for You to why he hates the term “crowdsourcing,” his most interesting answers involved the scrubbing the Wikipedia entry for David Rohde when New York Times journalist was captured by the Taliban last year and held for seven months.

“It was a matter of national safety,” Wales explained. “The Times asked us to, and we agreed. It was a very complicated situation, and I had to think to myself, ‘What would I feel comfortable doing?’ When I realized a man’s life was in jeopardy if I allowed this information to be disseminated, I was not comfortable with it.”

As a counter-point to what some could seem as a Big Brother-ing of the user-edited site, Wales provided the example of Wikipedia’s policy on some of their entries on China. Since China just recently lifted a nation-wide ban on the site, but still closely monitors and blocks certain pages on their citizen’s computers, Wales and his team had to make the decision to just scrub the entries completely.

“But we decided that we wouldn’t be the ones to limit users’ rights on the subject,” Wales said, though it would certainly improve his relations with Chinese officials. In fact, knowing the amount of threatened lawsuits and libel cases Wikipedia and Wales have come up against since he co-founded the site in 2001, there’s an argument to be made that the more rigorous the editing on the user-created encyclopedia, the better. But then again, it just wouldn’t be Wikipedia.

After the jump, a look at how Facebook pages are helping magazines from the founder of video marketing firm Involver.

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Freed Times Reporter Relives Four Scary Days, Death Of A Friend

One day after his rescue from Taliban captors in Afghanistan, New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell has blogged about his kidnapping, captivity and escape on the Times‘s “At War” blog.

The detailed account of Farrell’s 4-day ordeal is unlike anything we’ve ever read, and if you can read it without tearing up — especially at the end when Farrell speaks about his translator Sultan Munadi who was killed during the rescue raid — then you are certainly made of stone.

Farrell’s story is unique because many journalists that survive captivity seem too shaken to speak about their experiences, particularly in the first days after their release. Times reporter David Rohde, who escaped from months of Taliban captivity earlier this summer, has yet to tell his story, and Laura Ling and Euna Lee, recently freed from North Korea, took a few weeks before making a statement about their arrest. They still haven’t given specific details about their captivity. At least not the way Farrell has.

Farrell speaks at length about this captors’ organization or lack thereof, their efforts to indoctrinate him into the Muslim faith and their threats against Munadi:

“There were good hours, and bad ones. Progress and setbacks. They reported to Sultan that their elders — the word ‘commandant’ was used frequently — thought that we were ‘not security people so are to be treated well.’

But then our status as journalists was called into question again, and it became an endless series of assurances and reassurances. They allowed Sultan to talk to his mother and father, which was encouraging, but on the second day Sultan picked up that they might be seeking money, and on Day 3 an exchange of prisoners. He became glum at this, especially so when two Taliban told him that while they were confident that an exchange could be arranged for me, not so for him…Another reminded him that an Italian journalist had once been exchanged, but his translator was no so fortunate. ‘He was beheaded,’ the unsmiling youngster said, to Sultan’s face. He translated it, faithfully but with a gray face.”

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Abducted NYT Reporter Freed, Interpreter Killed

farrell.jpgSeveral months after the heroic escape of New York Times reporter David Rohde from his Afghan captors, another Times reporter has been rescued from Taliban kidnappers thanks to a harrowing military raid that killed his interpreter and a British commando.

Stephen Farrell and his interpreter Sultan Munadi were seized Saturday while reporting on the aftermath of NATO air strikes in Afghanistan in a village south of Kunduz.

Early Wednesday, Farrell was rescued by a military raid on the compound where he and Munadi were being held. Farrell managed to escape unharmed, but Munadi was killed.

Like Rohde’s ordeal, this scary story not only brings to light the very real danger that foreign correspondents can find themselves in every day, but also reveals a press black out that kept the news of Farrell and Munadi’s abduction under wraps.

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Murdoch Dodges Questions About Scandal In FBN Interview|HuffPo Investigative Editor Roberts Reveals Plans|Keller Answers Time‘s 10 Questions

TVNewser: In an interview with Fox Business News today, Rupert Murdoch avoided the subject of cell phone hacking allegations against his U.K. papers, saying “I’m not talking about that issue at all today. I’m sorry.” Interviewer Stuart Varney quickly crumbled. “No worries, Mr. Chairman. That’s fine with me,” he told his boss.

American Journalism Review: Larry Roberts, executive editor of The Huffington Post‘s new investigative arm, says hundreds of people applied to be part of his team but he’s looking to hire a “tightly-knit” group of about 12.

Time: Ten Questions with New York Times executive editor Bill Keller. His thoughts about “The Daily Show” segment?

“Well, that’s the last time I try to be a good sport. Even my wife told me that I looked faintly ridiculous, and she was trying to make me feel better. Among the people who would miss us most would be the wise-guy pundits and scriptwriters for satirical TV shows, because they riff on the news we produce.”

Also discussed: the future of print media, Iran and not reporting government secrets and David Rohde‘s kidnapping. Good stuff.