Reporters

By Jeffrey Goldberg

So we're driving to the Cairo airport in Hillary Clinton's very impressive motorcade, and Keith Johnson of The Wall Street Journal, who is sitting next to me, is writing an article on his Blackberry, in the dark, in a speeding van, and his deadline is four minutes away, and he manages to pull it off, while I was doing the only thing I know how to do while driving through Cairo, which is trying not to throw up. I was very impressed with Johnson, particularly because I'm mainly a magazine writer who is given time and solitude to think about the information he has, and what information he's missing. Johnson, and the other daily (and hourly) reporters on the Clinton magical mystery tour through the Middle East are given no time at all to write intelligently, and yet they do. It is always a humbling experience to be around reporters who can perform at this level.

It is also humbling to think about the four New York Times staffers -- two reporters and two photographers -- who have gone missing in Libya. There seems to be a feeling that they might be in the custody of the Qaddafi's government, and this, all things being equal, might actually be not the absolute worst thing. But praying for them is mandatory. Their predicament is a reminder that the people who gather the news for you, particularly in the conflict zones across the Middle East, are risking their lives to perform this most invaluable service, and that they deserve honor and accolades and good salaries and respect from those who criticize and aggregate for a living.

Thank you. This concludes tonight's Goldblog sermon.

In other news, the world is coming apart at the seams. I'm in Tunisia right now (very exciting, like visiting Lexington and Concord) and the reason I'm not writing more this week about the Middle East is that I'm actually saving up my reporting for an article in our magazine. And also because the more I know, the less I know, and I don't want to inflict my half-baked theories on the readers of this blog  I know, I know, why should this week be different than any other week? But it should be. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/reporters/72587/