Friday, September 24, 2004

SIGN OF THE TIMES A postscript follows Edward Wong's article in today's New York Times about the killing of a senior Iraqi oil official. It reads:
An Iraqi employee of The New York Times, whose name has been withheld for reasons of safety, contributed reporting from Mosul for this article.
Is there any precedent at The Times for the hiding of a reporter's identity? I can't think of one.

UPDATE: Does the decision to leave the writer's name off the story have anything to do with the ongoing detention of a Times stringer in China?

UPDATE UPDATE: Atrios links to this live chat with Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post, which seems to contain the kernel of an explanation for The Times' decision to withhold the byline:

We at The Post, like most other foreign journalists here, have had to restrict our movements...I used to jump in a car and drive out to places like Fallujah and Baqubah to write about attacks, to get a sense of what was really happening on the ground. No longer. The roads are too dangerous, the threat of kidnapping too great. We spend a lot of time sitting in our hotels and relying on the reporting of our very brave Iraqi local staff. It's not great for us and it's not great for our readers, but it's the best we can do under the circumstances.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.