Zeyad gave us an eyewitness account of what was happening. From that frightening perspective, he concluded that there was a coup underway. He reported later that things had quieted down and pulled back from that dire view.
This illustrates a lot about the future of journalism.
Here was have a correspondent giving us a perspective on the evens in Iraq that we were not getting — and likely could not get — elsewhere. That makes it valuable. Period.
But it’s just one report from one perspective.
You could say that what was needed on top of this was an editor to give us context and confirmation and lots of good, journalistic values. Well, fine.
But what I really think we need is more information. If Zeyad — and we — had been able to go to a score of fellow bloggers’ posts from all over Iraq, we would have had a broader view of what was happening. We need more perspectives, more correspondents, more information, more weblogs.
And we all need to act as editors as we read these weblogs and judge them in their own context. When I read Zeyad’s post last night, I thought the word “coup” was overblown and I said so — but I still thought his report of the scene he could report on was well worth passing on to you. I knew it was written in the heat and fear of the moment — and, frankly, that is what made it all the more dramatic and important.
If I had reported from the World Trade Center as the attacks and aftermath, I would have been wondering whether a frigging nuclear bomb had landed in Manhattan; others wondered just that at the time. So my perspective would not have been the most reliable in the longrun. But if I had been able to publish what I saw and felt at that moment (as I could with the tools I have today) wouldn’t you have read it and considered it valuable? Wouldn’t you also have known to let other reports and time give it context? Of course. In the future of journalism, we can all be correspondents. We can all be editors.
: Update: Stuart Hughes, who has covered the war in Iraq, agrees: “Personally. I’d rather be second, third or even last and be 100% sure of my facts than be first and wrong — be it in my blog or my work for Big Media.” Yes, but I’m still damned glad to have the immediate witness of the Zeyads, so long as we put it in perspective.