The Press Withdrawal

Heidi Vogt, who has reported from Afghanistan for four years, worries about the “press drawdown that accompanies a troop drawdown”:

When a suicide bomber blows himself up in 2015, there may be a very small handful of Western reporters still in country to cover it. The current staffers in Kabul will have moved on to Jerusalem or Cairo or London or New York. The freelancers will be in Syria, or wherever the next Syria is. And the Afghan journalists who are so key to any reporting in the country will have less of a shield between them and a government that has shown little commitment to freedom of the press.

We’ve seen this happen already in Iraq.

Did you hear about the car bombings outside Baghdad last month that killed more than 30 people? Or the wave of attacks in March that killed 65 people on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion? An al-Qaida in Iraq front group claimed responsibility. Stories were written about these attacks, but fewer than there would have been two years ago. And those that were written got less space on websites and in newspapers than they would have back then.

Afghanistan, already slipping off the American front page, will show up as a three-inch story in the international section when an American special forces soldier dies.