> $10,000

We broke $10,000 yesterday, and that means it’s time to go.

By the way, everyone. We broke $10,000 yesterday… Many, _many_ thanks to all of you. There’s no way this would have happened without those members of the _real_ “Coalition of the Willing” (formerly “Angel Investors”) to the right. Everyone on that list deserves every reader’s thanks. And they definitely have mine.
Also, George over at Warblogging deserves a big thanks for helping host this site, and helping get tons of bandwidth
My brother, Michael, will also deserve a big hand, since he’s going to be the one actually pushing the button to publish this blog while I’m in-country. The sat-phone is pretty narrow bandwidth, so I’ll email out the the dispatches on the donors’ listserv I’ve set up and later in the day, Michael will copy and paste the day’s email(s) into blog entries. (I’d link to his site, but he’s serving it on an iMac out of his home. I don’t think his ISP would appreciate the attention.)
Friends, family and others too many to mention here: You have my gratitude. This could never have happened without their support and encouragement.
And now, the fear sets in. Tomorrow will be a busy day. I’ll likely not blog until Friday when I get to Ankara and give an update, but I’ll do what I can.

Wheels up! Well, tomorrow evening, anyway

Ready to go, and if you need more reasons to want an independent journalism, read on, McDuff.

Tickets are purchased, gear is tested (mostly), packing is commencing and everything is coming together. I’ve not posted much these past few days because of the overwhelming number of loose ends to tie up. Plus, at the moment, I don’t really know any more than what’s on CNN et al. What’s the point of regurgitating? Starting this week however, the real purpose of Back to Iraq comes into view, as this becomes a much more heavily reported site instead of one based on analysis and commentary. (That will still be there, but in much smaller portions.)
I’ve been doing a fair number of interviews, too, as various media members want to know my story. Often they ask me why I’m doing this, what do I expect or hope to get out of this, am I crazy, etc. Well, I’m probably crazy, yes, but what I’m hoping to get out of this is some respect for the Web (and blogs) as a serious medium for independents. To all the journalism professors who say blogs aren’t “real” journalism, I say, “I don’t see you getting out of your tenured chair and putting your butt in the middle of Kurdistan to report on what’s happening.” To those who say, “You’ve got no editor,” I reply, “My readers are my editors.” To those who complain, “You’re biased, you offer nothing but op-eds,” I reply, “I am biased, but at least you know where I’m coming from. And just wait until next week when my butt is in Kurdistan.”
There have been a couple of stories of journalism being pulled away from its mission by corporate masters. While these are no means the rule, they are troubling.

  • Kevin Sites was shut down. While I wasn’t always impressed with his work, he did take some good photographs. CNN’s decision to shut him down is puzzling, considering he was saying nothing that would annoy his employers.
  • The BBC’s War Diaries, while interesting, seem a bit like an afterthought. And no doubt they are. The BBC reporters work hard.
  • And finally, Paul Krugman has reported in his column that Clear Channel, operator of approximately 1,225 radio stations, 39 television stations and which has equity interest in more than 240 radio stations, has been organizing pro-war rallies around the country.

As Krugman says,

the company’s top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel’s chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university’s endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

It should also be noted that Clear Channel is a major donor to the Republican party. Since 1997, the chairman and CEO, Lowry Mays, according to FEC records, has personally given $11,250, almost all to Republican candidates. (The exception is Rep. Charles Gonzales of the 20th District.)
Krugman’s point is partially that Clear Channel is doing a favor for George W. Bush, but his main point is that major corporations — including media companies — are merging with the government “into one big ‘us.'” The danger of this should be obvious.
Anyway, there’s so much going on now. It’s impossible to know the whole story of this war. But that’s OK, I’ve come to realize. It’s more important to tell a few stories of the war rather than the story of the war. That will have to be written later. And when the narrative is told, the media will have major role — mainstream, freelance and independent alike. And perhaps someone will look back and say, “The blogosphere stepped up to the plate. With commentary and analysis, its members provided a tonic for much of the mainstream media’s excesses. Others provided a meta-analysis, providing their readers with as much of a bird’s eye view of the coverage as possible. And for the first time, they sent one of their own to war.”