Iraq or Bust!

Welcome to Kurdistan!

Wow. I’m incredibly touched by the outpouring of support from the readers of Back to Iraq. Some of you wished to remain anonymous, others have asked to be listed under the Angel Investors over to the right. No matter how big or small your donation, it is greatly appreciated. The fact that people are willing to support independent journalism, reportage with a voice, makes all of this worthwhile. Thanks to all of you, the donations now total $773.71! In a day people donated almost $550. That’s incredible and you all should be extremely proud of yourselves.

With the money I’ve saved up, we have $1,973.71 in the Back to Iraq fund. That’s definitely getting into the ball park. Since donations have been coming so fast and furious, I’d like to take a moment and tell y’all more of the plan and answer some questions.

What’s the money actually going for?
Traveling to war zones is expensive. In addition to airfare, insurance and other basics of travel, there’s bribe money (in cash), the need to purchase a gas mask and other protective gear, atropine (for nerve agents, but if I have to pull it out, it likely won’t do any good at that point) and money to hire translators, drivers, etc. Based on my last trip to the region, I estimate that $8,000 to $10,000 is a comfortable operating range for a six week to two months stay.

How much are you kicking in?
Well, I’ve got about $1,200 in savings right now. I’m going to be adding to that as I can with my various freelance gigs. I’m hoping to have about a 50-50 split on costs. But if it’s 60-40 or even 70-30, so be it. It’s not important that you readers pay for the whole trip. What’s important is that you’re contributing to independent journalism. That’s why someone who gives $1 is just as important to me as someone who gives $200.

What about taxes?
I’m checking on that one. If I have to pay taxes on the donations, then I’ll obviously skip the country and move to France. Just kidding! (I get several hits from the domain, so that was a joke, IRS people.) If I have to pay taxes, I will. I am not a non-profit organization, however, so your donations, at the moment are not tax deductible.

How are you going to get into the region?
Well, to be honest, I’m still working on that one. With the war coming up in the next couple of weeks or so, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to get in-country prior to the war. However, if donations continue to come in like they are, it’s quite likely I’ll be able to get in the middle or toward the end of hostilities. For those who think that won’t be that interesting, au contraire! Occupation news will be possibly more interesting than the actual war reporting. As for my route, it will likely be through Syria or Iran.

Anyone else going with you?
Possibly. I’ve had interest from two very good journalist friends who would like to go. I’ve also had some interest from a documentary filmmaker and several overseas broadcasting companies who are looking for experienced Iraq people. (I guess that includes me.) So far, however, this looks like a solo endeavor.

What do we get out of this?
Well, you get more than a warm and fuzzy feeling, that’s for sure. I’m going to steal — er, “quote” — from Hector Rotweiler Jr.’s site since I think he has the best line on this:

To date, Michel has raised more than $3000 for her breasts — which she does not promise to share with her supporters if she raises the money needed for implants — while Christopher Allbritton has raised less than $500 for dispatches that he will post to his website.

Heh. So that’s the basic pitch. You get to read good reporting, thoughtful commentary and unique photographs (and video if I can hook up with some camera people.) But as they say on late night television, “There’s more!”

Not only do you get to contribute to a good cause, i.e., independent journalism, but the donors get put on a private email list. You will have access to stories, photos and raw notes — as well as personal observations — before the Web site or other media outlets do. You can also request stories to be covered. If you hear rumors of, say, guerilla fighting in Basra, ask me to check it out. If it’s humanly possible and it’s not a deathtrap, you get to play assignment editor!

What does your mother think of all this?
She’s terrified! She also, significantly, has not donated a penny. (Hint, hint.) She didn’t know about my first trip until after I got back, and then she kind of freaked out. But, as I tried to explain to her, the best stories are in dangerous places. On a related note, I have received money from several ex-girlfriends. You can draw your own conclusions from that bit of knowledge.

Ok. Enough with PBS fund rasing drive! You all know what to do. If you have a credit card, you can click on the Amazon or PayPal buttons on the right. Oh, and for the people using Amazon, it does not give me email addresses or any other contact information. I try to respond personally to everyone who donates, so if you use Amazon, please drop me a note with the amount you donated so I can add you to the private email list. (If you have the confirmation number, that’s even better.)

Thank you, everyone! I can’t tell you how much your support and kind words of encouragement have touched me.

PS: If you’d like to be notified when I update the site, please sign up to the right. Or you can drop me a line and I’ll add you myself. Thanks!

2 Comments on “Iraq or Bust!”

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