Wires Prepare for Iraq War

By: Dave Astor

They’re trained, armed (with communications and safety equipment), and massed at Iraq’s border. But wire-service-distributed journalists won’t kill anyone. Instead, they’ll make sure even the smallest newspapers get firsthand coverage if the United States goes to war.

“Few newspapers have the resources to cover something like this on their own,” says Peter Copeland, editor and general manager of Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS).

One wire is even offering art from the front, via Richard Johnson of the Detroit Free Press. “There’s going to be a ton of photographs, so illustrations will be another way of telling the story,” says Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services (KRT) Editor Jane Scholz.

Wire services are already using the Web to provide clients with material. For instance, KRT offers more than 1,600 photos, graphics, and other Iraq-related visuals through its site — and has seen an increase in one-shot sales to newspapers that don’t subscribe to KRT.

The Associated Press now has more than 40 reporters, photographers, and TV people in the Iraq region. How many more if there’s a war? “It depends on how much access there is, how long the conflict lasts, and the aftermath,” replies Thomas Kent, a deputy managing editor at AP, which goes to 1,700 U.S. papers.

Reuters has about a dozen people in Baghdad and another dozen elsewhere in Iraq. If war breaks out, Reuters would have about 90 reporters, photographers, and film-crew people in and around Iraq, according to Michael Stott, the wire’s London-based editor for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The New York Times News Service would distribute war coverage by a large contingent of staffers from The New York Times and the news service’s partner papers. Laurence M. Paul, executive editor of the news service and New York Times Syndicate, adds that the syndicate would offer special war-related content — including articles by famous writers.

The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service would distribute war coverage from as many as 60 reporters and photographers from the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and other contributing papers, according to Kate Carlisle, LAT-WP managing editor for Washington.

KRT would distribute the work of about 75 reporters and photographers if there’s a war. About half would be from Knight Ridder papers and half from other KRT contributors such as the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News. Scholz says about 30 of the 75 are already in the Iraq region.

SHNS would distribute war stories and pictures by seven journalists who work for either the news service itself or an E.W. Scripps Co. paper. It also would offer Iraq coverage from papers that contribute to SHNS from outside the Scripps chain. Copeland says a reporter and photographer are now providing material from Kuwait for print newspapers, online newspapers, and Scripps-owned TV stations.

Meanwhile, wires are making homefront plans. “We’ll be all-hands-on-deck here in the event of a war,” says Carlisle, noting that editors would “staff the desk almost around the clock” rather than the 16 or so hours a day in normal times.

Wires expect to cover the war’s aftermath — including a possible U.S. occupation of Iraq — with an on-site level of staffing that may be reduced but not eliminated. “We won’t pack up and disappear when the war is over,” says Stott of Reuters.

Kent adds that AP will stick with Iraq just as it has stuck with Afghanistan. “We’re still well-staffed in Afghanistan,” he reports, “even though that story hasn’t gotten as much attention in newspapers as it used to.”

***

Berry Discusses End of ‘World’


But He’ll Be Involved With Other Projects

Jim Berry’s feature is a hybrid, as is the combination of reasons why it’s ending after 40 years. “Berry’s World” — available in a “Best of” format through the end of February — is described by its creator as “sort of a cross between an editorial cartoon and a New Yorker cartoon.”

And the variety of reasons why it’s ending? Berry, 71, noted that the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate wanted to take him off the payroll and make him an “independent contractor.” That led the cartoonist to think that, given how busy he’s going to be during the next few months, maybe it was time to stop doing a seven-day-a-week feature.

Berry will be busy handling the estate of his mother, who died Feb. 4 at the age of 98. He’ll also be “downsizing” his living arrangements. He currently resides part of the year in Boynton Beach, Fla., and part on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He will either live full-time on Cape Cod or spend part of the year in a smaller Florida abode. The Cape Cod house was built by Berry’s great-grandfather in about 1840!

“It’s tough to stop doing ‘Berry’s World,’ but I had a good run,” says the cartoonist. “I’m about ready to try some other stuff.”

The Chicago native is already working on a children’s book and may also freelance — possibly contributing to syndicated comics or doing greeting cards.

“Berry’s World” greeted readers in 1963 as an innovative feature that wasn’t quite an editorial cartoon and wasn’t quite a traditional comic, though it had a comic-panel shape. On any given day, Berry might make a political point, provide social commentary, offer a funny gag, or combine all three approaches.

In The Comics: Since 1945, Brian Walker wrote that features such as Berry’s “paved the way for more direct political and social comment on the funnies page.”

Berry never missed a deadline in four decades, even when he had prostate cancer and his wife had breast cancer. He also managed to find time one year to serve as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Obviously, the AAECers who elected him thought Berry was at least partially an editorial cartoonist!

The NEA package goes to more than 600 newspapers. It’s hard to know exactly how many used “Berry’s World” (on either Op-Ed or comic pages), but it was one of the most popular parts of the package.

***

Et cetera …

Editorial cartoonist Jeff Stahler of The Cincinnati Post and Newspaper Enterprise Association is doing the “Moderately Confused” comic starting March 3. The panel replaces “Berry’s World” in the NEA package. …

Tribune Media promoted four executives to vice president: Alexa Bazanos (human resources), Jay Brodsky (technology), Jay Fehnel (business development), and Stephen Tippie (marketing). …

Roy Peter Clark will write a weekly column called “MediaWise” for the New York Times Syndicate beginning in March. Clark is vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute and the author of several books on writing and journalism. …

“Dear Abby” writer Jeanne Phillips received the 2003 Advocacy Award Feb. 26 from the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles. Phillips has written about Alzheimer’s in her Universal Press Syndicate column. And her mother — original “Dear Abby” creator Pauline Phillips — has the disease. …

AccuWeather.com broke its record for page views in a day with 5.6 million on Feb. 14, as people sought information about the then-impending blizzard that dumped huge quantities of snow in parts of the country. …

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists has formed the NSNC Education Foundation to offer learning and training opportunities to current and future columnists. For more info, see http://www.columnists.com/foundation.htm. …

The Erma Bombeck Online Museum (http://www.ErmaMuseum.org) added seven lost episodes of the 1981-82 TV sitcom Maggie created by the columnist, who died in 1996.




The last 20 “Syndicate World” columns are available on our index page. Subscribers may access previous columns from our archives.

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