Ref NoOHP/30/5
TitleBrian Whitaker
Date2 June 2003
Extent1 minidisc, 1 cd, 1 file, 5 AIFF files (667.7 MB)
Creator NameWhitaker; Brian; journalist
DescriptionInterview with Brian Whitaker, Guardian Middle East editor. Conducted by Leslie Plommer on 2 June 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.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1:
Track 1
00.00 Introductions
00.30 Role in war coverage. How this compared to his usual role
01.00 Sent to Egypt. Intended use as a base for travel in the Middle East
01.30 Issue of visas. Easier to negotiate in London
02.20 Based in London during war coverage
03.35 Information gained from Arab newspapers
04.00 His role during the war. Easier to gain a broad picture from a distance
05.30 Importance of having staff based at a distance. Different viewpoints
05.56 Arab television news coverage. Ghost writing a piece on behalf of photographer Sean Smith
06.50 Popularity of daily diary piece on newspaper website
08.00 Need for a voice to question news reports
08.30 Diary became everyday piece due to popular demand
09.10 Daily war conference
09.45 Happy with diary pieces

10.00 Examples of diary pieces
10.25 Doubts over report concerning attack on market place in Baghdad
11.50 The fall of Basra. Sceptical of reports
12.12 Report on tanks leaving Basra. Story turned out to be false
12.50 Use of language – ‘It is reported that’
13.45 Misinterpretation of scale of reports
14.00 Doubts over destruction of statue during fall of Baghdad
16.00 Fall of statue an interesting moment in war coverage. Symbolic of Iraqi-American relationship. Statue representing the
development of the war

Track 2
00.00 Continued discussion of the fall of statue in Baghdad
00.30 Use of American flag
01.00 Appearance of an Iraqi flag. Use of old Iraqi flag
02.00 Number of complaints over use of images of American flag
03.00 Issue of triumphalism in war. Compares to use of American flag in Iwo Jima coverage
04.00 British attitudes to British use of flag versus American attitudes
04.48 American anger expressed towards newspaper coverage
05.25 Praise from Americans for Guardian war coverage. Issues of press freedom
06.30 Compares war coverage to press during the Falklands War07.30 Daily Mirror war coverage
08.20 Differences between print media and television coverage
09.00 British attitudes towards the Iraq War

10.00 Lack of coverage in Arab world
10.25 How Arab television including Al Jazeera covered the war
11.40 Use of emotive images

Track 3
0.30 Writing a profile of Tariq Aziz, Iraqi deputy prime minister
02.49 Writing pieces on controversies including story on politician George Galloway
04.20 Preparation for writing articles
05.00 Discusses Mr Chalabi, a British based Arab businessman
09.00 Those making mischief through reporting

10.20 Role of London-based Arab press
12.20 Mood of Arabs in London. Kuwaiti support for war
14.50 Pamphlets attacking British policy. Asian Muslims in Britain
Track 4
00.00 Discussion of Syria. Movement of Iraqis into the country. Need for a correspondent in Damascus
00.55 Views of Syrians
01.00 His visit to Syria
02.30 Large hotel booked by Baghdad. Protecting Iraqi refugees
03.00 What he found in Syria
04.00 Syria represented only escape route for Iraqis. Problems of escaping elsewhere, for example Turkey or Iran
05.20 American perceptions of Iran and Syria
07.30 Layout of Syrian hotel
08.00 Memories of Syria
09.00 Bicycles in Syria

Track 5
00.10 Continued discussion of luxury hotel in Syria
01.45 Bad experience with taxi driver. Told there were no return buses to Damascus. Experience of being stopped by police whilst on bus
03.30 Provided recount of experience to the Guardian
04.15 Experiencing paranoia. Tensions in Syria
05.30 Discussion of Saddam Hussein and his whereabouts
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Minidisc recording
Printed document
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and Brian Whitaker

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