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Posts Tagged ‘Michael T. Kaufman’

A Q&A with the New York Times Writer of Osama bin Laden’s Obituary

The centerpiece of the New York Times’ coverage on Osama bin Laden was the 4,000 word obituary that the paper had on file. One of the writers, Michael T. Kaufman, died in January 2010. Assistant editor Lauren Kirchner of the Columbia Journalism Review has a fascinating interview with the other obituary writer, Kate Zernike, about the process.

Apaprently the obituary had been written since November of 2001, as Zernike described, “when we thought Osama was going to be captured, and presumably killed, in a raid in the next couple of days. So as much as it was a project that waited around for ten years, it actually was written in some ways on a fairly tight deadline.”

Zernike said that sometime around 2003, she remembers speaking with an editor about how Bin Laden was “no longer this enormous figure, and so it would probably run one full page inside, but not the two full pages.”

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Details from Osama bin Laden’s New York Times’ Obituary

Osama bin Laden‘s New York Times obituary went up Sunday night, almost immediately after President Obama announced that the Al Qaeda leader had been killed during a U.S. operations. And it’s a long one.

The obituary was written by writers Kate Zernike and Michael T. Kaufman, who actually died in 2010, before Bin Laden. Tim Weinger contributed reporting.

The article first details how long we have been searching for Bin Laden:

Long before Sept. 11… American officials considered Bin Laden at least in part responsible for the killing of American soldiers in Somalia and in Saudi Arabia; the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993; the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia; and a foiled plot to hijack a dozen jets, crash a plane into the C.I.A. headquarters and kill President Bill Clinton… After the bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa in August 1998, President Clinton declared Bin Laden “Public Enemy No. 1.”

Some details from Bin Laden’s childhood:

The elder Bin Laden [Osama's father] died in a plane crash when Osama was 10. The siblings each inherited millions…and led a life of near-royalty. Osama… grew up playing with Saudi princes and had his own stable of horses by age 15.

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