INTREPID IRAQ REPORTER SAYS THINGS ARE NOW SO DANGEROUS HE ONLY ALLOWS HIMSELF 12 MINUTES TO COVER A STORY
The Independent's famously intrepid Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has revealed that the situation in Iraq is now so dangerous that he doesn't know whether he can go on reporting from the country. Fisk, who has previously accused colleagues of practising "hotel journalism" in Iraq, said that "mouse journalism" is now the best he can do in the country.
Fisk, whose new history of the Middle East, The Great War for Civilization, has just been published, described mouse journalism as the practice of popping up at the scene of an event and staying just long enough to get the story, before the men with guns arrive.
Speaking at a bookshop in Golders Green, he said: "You cannot imagine just how bad things are in Iraq. A few weeks ago, I went to see a man whose son was killed by the Americans, and I was in his house for five minutes before armed men turned up in the street outside. He had to go and reason with them not to take me away. And this was an ordinary Baghdad suburb, not the Sunni Triangle or Fallujah.
"It has got to the stage where, for example, when I went to have a look at the scene of a huge bomb in a bus station, I jumped out of the car and took two pictures before I was surrounded by a crowd of enraged Iraqis. I jumped back in the car and fled. I call that 'mouse journalism' - and that's all we can do now.
"If I go to see someone in any particular location, I give myself 12 minutes, because that is how long I reckon it takes a man with a mobile phone to summon gunmen to the scene in a car. So, after 10 minutes I am out. Don't be greedy. That's what reporting is like in Iraq."