Journalists Report What They Don't See

In the war in Afghanistan, journalists report what they don't see. Most war dispatches are based on what both U.S. and Taliban officials tell the reporters. There is almost no real reporting. Quetta, the provincial capital of Pakistan's southern Baluchistan province which borders the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, is home to hundreds of Western journalists, both print and television. They depend on Pakistani commandos because it is not safe to move around without protection. "Most of us have no access to independent information and no means to verify what we are told," said one journalist. For news from Afghanistan, they mostly depend on the so-called "informed sources," meaning aid agencies, local Taliban officials, Pakistani authorities and U.S. officials in Islamabad. Even when they are taken inside Afghanistan, there is little that the journalists can see on their own. The Taliban keep a tight control over the territory from the Pakistani border to Kandahar, and nobody is allowed to talk to journalists.