Magazine article Editor & Publisher

For Ted Rall, It's Back to Afghanistan: Cartoonist Raises $26K to Return to War-Torn Country

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

For Ted Rall, It's Back to Afghanistan: Cartoonist Raises $26K to Return to War-Torn Country

Article excerpt

CARTOONIST AND PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST TED RALL will be traveling back to Afghanistan this month to "see what has changed and how life is going for Afghans, especially those in the remote provinces in the southwest where Western reporters never venture."

Rall first visited Afghanistan in 2001. This time, he's bringing some company. Fellow cartoonists Matt Bors, who like Rall is syndicated by Universal UClick, and Web cartoonist Steven Cloud have packed their bags, grown out their beards and are scheduled to meet Rall in Dubai on Aug. 11. From there, the trio will fly to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, their staging ground prior to crossing the Tajik border into Northern Afghanistan a day later.


I spoke with Rall about returning to Afghanistan and how funding an independent trip through new methods like compares to his media-funded expedition almost nine years ago.

I guess the most obvious question is why now? Why go back?

August 2010 will probably mark the last major offensive by U.S. forces in Afghanistan before the initial drawdown of troops scheduled by the Obama administration in 2011. So this will be the crunch time of the war. I was there in November-December 2001, at the end of the beginning of the Karzai era. Now I'll be there at the beginning of the end. We're watching the start of the next phase in Afghanistan's 31-yearlong civil war.

You're funding a large part of your travel expenses through Kickstarter, a Website that allows individuals to fund creative projects they want to see get done. How did you find out about it?

I've been wanting to return to Afghanistan for years. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a newspaper or magazine willing or able to fund war correspondency--even on my relatively low budget. Stephanie McMillan, the cartoonist who draws Minimum Security, recommended that I try getting the money through Kickstarter. It worked; I got $26,000 from over 200 supporters who wonder what's going on Afghanistan but aren't getting the real story from the media.

Do you see this as a viable method of funding journalism projects in the future?

I am pessimistic about the short-term future of this kind of reporting. Sure, I got the financing via Kickstarter, and that's awesome. …

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