Posted by: goatberg | March 23, 2008

Alive In Baghdad

I’ve been meaning to post about the podcast Alive in Baghdad for a while. Its insider perspective on life in Baghdad from its citizen journalists allows for an honesty about the war that is unsurpassed, in my experience, by any other reporting in the western media. It won the Vloggie for best video blog in 2006 and has gotten a fair amount of attention from mainstream media outlets – definitely exemplary of what technology can do for real journalism.

Here’s a good introductory snippet from a BBC write up:

The founder of Alive in Baghdad is Brian Conley, a 26-year-old American journalist and film-maker.

He went to Baghdad and gave equipment and training to the small team of Iraqis who now produce a new short film every week.

Brian is now in Mexico, setting up a similar operation there.

He says he wanted to escape what he calls “live from” journalism.

“Essentially, there’s something lost when you send someone from another part of the world, or with a specific audience in mind, to tell another individual’s story.

“We are striving to build journalism in the voice of locals, so that people in different parts of the world can communicate almost directly to their audience around the world.”

The footage is shot by Iraqis and edited in the United States.

The website has survived until now on donations from foundations and individuals. Staff in Iraq receive a small salary. US staff are not paid.

If you’ve never watched an episode, browse the archives and start with anything that sounds intriguing; I can’t remember watching one installment that wasn’t engrossing if only for its unique on-the-ground perspective. The stories range from a firsthand account of a kidnapping to a local artist’s thoughts on his work and the situation in Iraq with many tales of suffering and small victories between.

Something impressed upon me repeatedly by this podcast is the the frank enthusiasm and pride of the people on camera. Whether it’s the interviewers or the character of the Iraqi people that’s responsible, it’s amazing how strongly the personalities of those interviewed come across.

Alive in Baghdad offers both excellent coverage of the real effects of the war on the Iraqis and a taste of of their culture. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the situation in Iraq. And if you’re so moved, this is definitely independent media worthy of financial support.

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