The Newsroom

By Klaidman, Daniel | Newsweek, March 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Newsroom

Klaidman, Daniel, Newsweek

Byline: Daniel Klaidman

Few days before the start of the Iraq War, I was summoned to the Pentagon, along with other senior editors for major U.S. news organizations. The message from Victoria Clarke, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's spokesperson, was severe and unequivocal: the bombing of Baghdad would soon begin and our correspondents on the scene would be in grave danger unless we pulled them out.

Leaving the meeting, I felt both manipulated and uncertain. The Pentagon surely had its own reasons for not wanting reporters on the scene. At the same time, how could we judge the real risks from our offices in Washington and New York? And was any story important enough to risk the death of one of our reporters? For Newsweek, the reporter in question was Melinda Liu, one of our most experienced foreign correspondents. Melinda had covered conflicts and coups around the world and had even been shot while on assignment for Newsweek in Manila. While we had pulled out another correspondent in the run-up to the war, we'd agreed to let Melinda ride it out. But now we faced a difficult choice.

As Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, I delivered the Pentagon's message to Melinda. Not surprisingly, she was adamant about staying. She felt safe enough in the Palestine Hotel, which was removed from the government ministries and major military installations that were the primary U.S. targets. But the orders for her to leave Iraq were coming from on high. Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Co., which at the time owned Newsweek, called me to say he hoped we were pulling Melinda out. It fell to Richard Smith, Newsweek's chairman and editor in chief, to give the order. Melinda was furious. What had she been doing living under one of the world's deadliest regimes for the past two months if not preparing to cover the war? She agreed to leave--but not before sitting down at her laptop and writing a letter of resignation.

In the end, it didn't come to that. In the chaos and confusion of the war, Melinda was unable to get an exit visa from the Information Ministry. It quickly became clear that it would be too dangerous to try to flee Iraq overland without the proper papers. She had to stay. Back home we were all concerned about Melinda's safety. At the same time, there was something comforting about having Melinda, pro that she was, on such a big and important story. Instead of resigning, Melinda, the only newsmagazine correspondent still in Baghdad, got to work.

The next evening the bombs began to fall. Watching the spectacle unfold from the balcony of her hotel was like having a front-row seat at an IMAX war movie. As she described the scene in Newsweek, "The night sky pulsed with crimson fireballs and Iraqi tracer fire, the concussion had knocked the plaster from my hotel's ceilings and an entire riverbank of government buildings had disintegrated as I watched from an upper floor." That night, Melinda filed in short bursts as a precautionary measure in case they were hit or lost power. In New York, her editors weaved together her dispatches into a brilliant diary that vividly captured the surreal quality of Saddam's final days, as well as the spreading chaos and fear as war gripped the city.

War is the most extreme circumstance journalists face. It imposes especially difficult choices because the stakes are so high. Reporters have to balance their own safety--and the safety of their sources--against the imperatives of covering a crucial news event. They have to avoid manipulation by their government in the most charged of settings and when the truth is most elusive. They have to navigate the thin line between their responsibilities as citizens of a country and their mission as truth-seeking journalists. The choices are often far from clear.

One of the most important choices journalists faced was how to cover the ground invasion as American forces pushed north from Kuwait. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Newsroom


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.