LevelItem
Ref NoOHP/30/4
TitleMichael Walter
Date29 May 2003
Extent1 minidisc, 1 cd, 1 file, 2 AIFF files (711.5 MB)
Creator NameWalter; Michael; photographer
DescriptionInterview with Michael Walter, a freelance photographer who was on contract to cover the Iraq War in Kurdistan for the Guardian. Conducted by Leslie Plommer on 29 May 2003. This interview is part of a series of interviews with Guardian staff who covered the Iraq War of March-April 2003. Also includes a data sheet containing biographical details about the subject and information about the recording including photocopies of photographs discussed in the recording.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1:
Track 1
00.08 Introductions
00.50 When he heard he would be going to Iraq. Contact with Bridget Coaker from the Guardian
01.50 A number of photographers did not want to go
02.20 Seemed like a good opportunity. More news-led than previous work
02.55 How to access Iraq
03.00 Training courses before despatch
03.25 Biological and radiation training
03.54 Based in Northern Iraq. Did not wish to be embedded with military due to restrictions on movement
05.00 Negotiations over visa
05.20 Time spent in Tehran, Iran
06.00 Arrived in Iraq the night before the war started
06.30 Problems faced when attempting to secure his working visa. Press attache upset over image featured in Weekend magazine
08.10 Problems with the Guardian foreign and picture desks
09.40 Waiting in Tehran for permission to cross border

10.30 Remembers his fixer in Iran
11.25 Remembers his crossing into Iraq. Flew into the country
12.30 Other journalists encountered
12.59 Waiting on the border
13.23 Being searched upon entry into Iraq
14.30 Finding hotel rooms
16.30 Remembers hearing from Luke Harding that the war had started
17.00 Driving to Chamchamal with plans to stay there
18.20 Mood encountered in Kurdistan, northern Iraq
19.28 Heightening tensions in the Kurdistan area
19.45 Car bomb attack targeted at journalists

20.10 Remembers seeing aftermath of car bomb attack. Decision to start wearing armour
21.20 Shortage of armour. Debate on who should wear armour. Recalls previous experiences in Bosnia
22.15 Remembers their driver and translator
23.18 Visiting a military hospital
23.45 Death of an Australian journalist. Reassuring his family
24.15 Rising tensions. Targeting Western journalists
25.00 Describes death of Channel 4 journalist Gaby Rado
26.55 Increase in tension
27.15 Areas closed off from journalists
29.00 Tensions dying down. Retreat into the mountains
29.28 Interview with an Iraqi defector who had been asked to volunteer as a suicide bomber

31.50 Discussion of photograph of Biaria, a liberated area
33.00 His expectations of Kurdistan before visiting the area
33.45 Access to alcohol
34.30 Reputation of Kurdish fighters. The reality he encountered
35.00 Landmines
37.30 Politics within Kurdistan
38.00 Occupation of Kurdish areas

40.00 Withdrawal from areas
40.30 Discussion of his photograph of a Kurdish women
41.48 Discussion of his photograph of a mural to a former Kurdish leader
42.45 Taking photographs of Kurdish daily life
44.00 Did not encounter opposition when photographing women
45.38 Bustle of the markets
48.00 Asked whether he was frightened. Boredom faced. Waiting for something to happen
48.54 Discussion of his photographs of morning prayers and a wedding party
49.55 Discussion of his photograph of defaced image of Saddam Hussein

50.48 Watching the fall of Baghdad and imitations. Statue in Kurdish area attacked
52.45 Scale of looting in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photograph of looting mattresses
54.55 Looting of schools
55.55 The fall of Kirkuk
56.24 Scramble to enter Kirkuk after it fell
57.20 Excitement after the fall of Kirkuk - 'festival' feeling
58.00 Discussion of photograph of a hotel looting
58.50 Change in mood in Mosul later in the day. Protests against the looting

60.00 Anticipated trouble in Mosul as excitement got out of hand
60.40 Anarchy. Lack of resources to maintain control

Track 2
00.00 Experience of working for the Guardian
01.15 Lack of opportunities for him in Northern Iraq as action was taking place in the south
02.00 Decisions by newspaper to print photographs. Lack of loyalty to photographers
03.00 Working as a freelance versus contract photographer
04.30 Tied to a journalist. Lost shooting time
05.30 Whether he would undertake similar contract again
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Minidisc recording
Printed document
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and Michael Walter

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Places
CodeSet
NA115Iraq/Asia
NA360Middle East
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