DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE


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Headshot of Carlotta Gall Read more about the journalists »

Headshot of Carlotta Gall

The New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall is based in Kabul, assigned to cover Afghanistan and Western Pakistan. In DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE she rode with Afghan soldiers asking about their security role, and she visited hospitals where Afghan women were turning up in suspiciously high numbers with life-threatening, possibly self-inflicted, burns.

What story (or stories) have you worked on since filming wrapped on DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE?

I am still covering Afghanistan and since January [2006] have taken on coverage of Pakistan as well, which has allowed me to look more at cross-border insurgent activity, the continuing presence of Al Qaeda members in the border areas, as well as travel with rebels in Baluchistan, and to the Kashmir earthquake zone. The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has escalated and that has kept us very busy this year in Afghanistan too.

Of all the stories you have covered, which has been most important, or the one you feel most proud of?

Flagging the rising Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan ahead of everyone else and continuing to cover an area that has become increasingly dangerous and difficult to report on.

What do you think of the present and future of independent journalism?

Good, especially as countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan are improving in developing independent media. Blogging has in a way opened the field to more independent ideas—always a healthy thing. The damage is being done at the other end of the spectrum: the big media companies are cutting costs and withdrawing permanent correspondents from areas that should be covered more fully. A place like Afghanistan is too expensive for the average freelancer so you end up with a lack of coverage.

How has technology influenced your job?

We now have satellite telephones so you don't have to travel miles to find a working telephone. You can now receive and send large amounts of data wherever you are.

How do you find your stories?

Talking to people.

What do you most like about reporting on Afghanistan and Western Pakistan? What do you find most difficult?

The people. The most difficult is the physical hardship—physically it is the most exhausting place I have ever worked in—climate, roads, travel, illness, size, geography and time difference with New York are all extremely tough. Lack of amenities, very little to do outside of work; so that compounds the hardship of work.

Read more by and about Carlotta Gall and her work:

Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus
by Carlotta Gall, Thomas De Waal

(New York University Press, 2000)

Read The New York Times articles by Carlotta Gall

Listen to NPR.org: reports by Carlotta Gall

Read about the other journalists featured in the film >>


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