While stories like those by Salam Pax may seem intriguing, Aly Colón, an ethicist for the media think tank Poynter Institute, said the entries should be taken with a dose of skepticism.
"Blogs are another tool for journalists and the public to get other perspectives from inside Iraq," Colón said. "The danger is taking this, or anything on the Internet really, at face value."
Colón said while the blog may be convincing to some, it could just as easily be a computer prankster in Topeka, Kan.
Salam Pax lists only an e-mail address as a means to contact him. The e-mail address, operated by a British music magazine, responded several times Monday with a message indicating the inbox was full. Efforts Monday to contact Salam Pax or determine his location were unsuccessful.
Second, while you may not be able to get hold of Salam himself, that doesn't mean he's a cipher. Why not treat him like a reclusive author who doesn't give interviews - read his collected works, speak to people who know him, and paint yourself a picture. Maybe there's something in an old post that clearly contradicts what he says about himself. All I've seen so far in the old media accounts of Salam is quotes from his most recent entries, which again gives the impression that he's a newcomer on the scene.
As for his peers, Salam has been a blogworld celebrity for some time now, and a number of bloggers have corresponded with him. Diane E. was an early booster, and she thinks he's real. Other bloggers, especially those on Salam's blogroll, likely have some useful insights. Maybe one of them has an actual email from Salam, whose headers could be checked to see if the originating IP address is in a block that's assigned to Iraq. You never know till you ask.
I understand that this story is seen as "timely", and the steps I've outlined would take more time than a reporter in this position might like to take. But I think we deserve a better examination of the question of Salam's genuineness than the canned opinion of some "media ethicist". Who knows, we might even discover the truth of the matter.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 25, 2003 to Iraq attack | TrackBack