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Iraqi Journalists Encounter Peril to Report for U.S. Media

American media organizations have increasingly relied on Iraqi reporters to get in and out of areas where foreign journalists might stand out or be easily targeted for kidnapping. Journalist Sahar Issa discusses her experiences as a reporter for McClatchy in Iraq.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And now, a rare look at the risks of reporting in Baghdad. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Reporting in Iraq is an extremely dangerous business. At least 122 journalists have been killed since the 2003 U.S. invasion; 100 of those were Iraqis, including five who were killed in three separate incidents on one October weekend.

    As the security situation has deteriorated, American media organizations have had to rely more and more on Iraqi reporters to get in and out of areas where foreign journalists might stand out and be easily targeted for kidnapping or worse.

    Recently, the International Women's Media Foundation honored six Iraqi women who've worked for McClatchy, the third-largest newspaper chain in the U.S. The McClatchy bureau in Baghdad is led by an American, and American correspondents, one at a time, rotate in and out. But Iraqis now make up the bulk of the staff.

    Sahar Issa, who once studied in England and later had a business career in Iraq, is the only one of those being honored still working in Baghdad. She turned to journalism after her own personal tragedy: One of her children, a teenage son, was killed when caught in the crossfire of a Baghdad street battle.

    I talked with Sahar Issa during her visit to the U.S. to accept her award. Because of the danger of her work and threats made against her, she asked that we not show her face.

    Tell me how it works as a bureau functioning, Iraqis and Americans working together. I assume there are many things they're unable or places they're unable to go to?

  • SAHAR ISSA, Iraqi Journalist:

    Wherever they can possibly go, they will go. If they need a translator with them, they will take one of us with them. It is only in instances where they cannot possibly go because they will endanger not only themselves, they will endanger themselves and the Iraqis who are with them.

    If an incident or a situation came up, the American would be kidnapped and ransomed, but the Iraqis would be killed. And when they can't go, it is us who are sent to go there, because we are Iraqis. We can handle the situation better. We are not seen as a threat. We try to remain the gray person as much as possible.