April 23: Econ 210a: WWI and the Great Depression [DeLong]
Washington Post Death Spiral Watch

Listening to Iraq

Ann Friedman:

Listening to Iraq: The news outlets that still report from Iraq rarely publish accounts of daily life there. Rarer still are narratives from outside the confines of the Green Zone. Sure, we get snippets of information from Iraqi reporters working with Western journalists, but most of the time, Iraqis' voices come to us in the form of react-quotes after a marketplace bombing or sectarian uprising. We don't see what it's like for Iraqis to walk home from the scene of the violence, then make dinner, then put their kids to bed. We lack the humanizing power of detail....

Blogs used to fill some of this void. Widely read Iraqi bloggers like Riverbend, the 26-year-old pseudonymous woman who wrote a daily account of life in Baghdad, and Raed Jarrar, whose entire family blogged the first three years of the occupation, gave international readers important insights into the real impact of the war -- in the form of long, winding narratives, not fleeting quotes.

But between 2006 and 2007, almost all of those bloggers, Riverbend included, left Iraq out of fear for their safety.... When I asked Zangana which English-language Iraqi blogs are still active and written from Iraq, the only one she could name (though there are probably more) was A Star from Mosul. In it, a 20-year-old engineering student writes under the pseudonym "Najma" about her stress-inducing course load, drama with her friends, and her adorable niece and nephew. Intertwined with those details, she writes about how the war has intruded on her daily life.... Najma doesn't identify her classmate as Sunni or Shiite or pigeonhole him in any way. He is a young man who used to laugh and is now depressed. And while Najma has also written about U.S. soldiers searching her house and assassination attempts on her university campus, the most striking thing about her blog is how quietly sad many of its details are...

And, of course, why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Except, also of course, for McClatchy: Inside Iraq: http://washingtonbureau.typepad.com/iraq/