Western news organizations are starting to head out of Afghanistan. Spokespeople for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CBS News, and NBC News all told me on Thursday evening that their reporters have exited the country as the security situation intensifies with the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
The Journal said it no longer has “reporters on the ground in Afghanistan” but remains “committed” to its coverage. The Post said it is relying on “stringers on the ground” and has journalists assisting in nearby countries with “wide past experience in Afghanistan.” CBS said its correspondent, Roxana Saberi, had flown out to Doha where she continues to cover the situation. And NBC said Richard Engel and the rest of the network’s team are now out of the country.
News outlets are making real-time decisions, weighing a variety of factors as they decide whether to keep their personnel in the country or pull them out. Some outlets, such as The Los Angeles Times, are still there. Others are keeping their movements very close to the vest for security reasons. The New York Times, for instance, told me that the paper continues to “cover Afghanistan with reporters and photographers in country and abroad,” but would not clarify on whether that means it still has correspondents on the ground or is relying on freelancers.
The journalists in Afghanistan have been providing valuable reporting that has repeatedly poked holes in how the Biden Administration has portrayed the situation on the ground in Kabul. They’ve pointed out everything from the bureaucratic mess Afghans have had to navigate to apply for a visa to the logistical difficulties of simply getting to the airport. But what happens as these reporters leave? It’s hard to say that the bright light the press has been shining on the mess won’t, like a flashlight slowly being drained of its battery, become dimmer and dimmer.
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>> From the Reuters piece: “A Taliban spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on accusations that it has harassed journalists, and in particular women in the profession.”