Oslo, April 1, 2003

sorryserbia.com

The rush of news

One of the things I do for The Associated Press is to keep an eye on the peace demos against the war in Iraq. This demonstration outside the American embassy in Oslo started peacefully, even if this Iraqi woman burned an American flag and stepped on it.
One of the things I do for The Associated Press is to keep an eye on the peace demos against the war in Iraq. This demonstration outside the American embassy in Oslo started peacefully, even if this Iraqi woman burned an American flag and stepped on it.

I haven't been writing a newsletter for some time, but that is not because I'm not doing anything. Until Christmas I was working with a home base in Belgrade, but now I live in Oslo. Even if I'm not in Iraq, as I would wish, I'm affected by the war indirectly.

Before I moved to the Balkans in January 2000, I was working as a stringer for The Associated Press, and now the Oslo Correspondent, Doug Mellgren for the AP works with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit somewhere in the Iraqi desert. I have tremendous respect for Doug; he is a brilliant reporter, but when he is away, I cover international news from Norway to the rest of the world for the AP together with another freelance journalist.

Being back at a news agency has been a terrific experience for me. I love to be where things are happening rapidly. With my article I get exposure in numerous newspapers and media around the world. One big story lately has been about Mullah Krekar, a Kurdish guerrilla leader in Northern Iraq suspected by Washington and the U.N. of having links to al Qaida.

However, even if the majority of the 5,000 protesters were peaceful, a group of about 200 violent protesters wanted trouble with the police.
However, even if the majority of the 5,000 protesters were peaceful, a group of about 200 violent protesters wanted trouble with the police.

One evening my editor called me at 8.50, and he told me that Mullah Krekar was arrested in Oslo. "No crap," I said. "Yes crap," my editor replied. Since it was very close to deadline for European newspapers, we had to work at light speed. "Speed, speed, speed," my editor wrote me. I contacted the police and tried to get the defense lawyer, and I filed the story at 9.25. That story made it to the Washington Post.

The day after, I spent a day in court to see if Krekar was jailed, and you can see that article here. What I have learned working for the AP and other news organizations is that even if one journalist gets his names on the article, it is all about a team effort. The day I spent in court, I was doing the field research while I called my editor in Stockholm to write the story.

My specialty lately has become odd stories, and they can be pretty funny. I have written about the kissing lane in Trondheim, my hometown. Yes, you read correctly, a kissing lane to avoid traffic jam at a hospital. I wrote about the retirees who got 2,000 cans of free smuggled beer; Iíve written about the death metal fan who was knocked out by a sheep head and I've written about the pastor who got his car stolen seven times to mention a few of the odd stories I do.

The violent protesters started throwing bricks, paint, eggs and bottles at the police. The police remained passive for a while.
The violent protesters started throwing bricks, paint, eggs and bottles at the police. The police remained passive for a while.

As some of you know, I was also trying to make it to Baghdad before the Americans. That would have been a most interesting experience, but I never got my visa at the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm, and besides, financing a project like this was a big challenge. I would have love to cover the war from Baghdad or an American unit in the Iraqi desert, but I don't do stuff like that anymore if I cannot make a good profit.

Instead, I've been helping with the Iraq coverage for the Christianity Today magazine. Last Tuesday, I was able to call a priest in Baghdad. Father Yousif Touma could tell me about bombing 15 hours a day, and he was terrified. You can read the complete article here. The problem about this story was that I write it the way I would write a news story for the AP. My CT editor was slightly despaired. "Kristian, I'm trying to put together a magazine," he told me. We had to rewrite the story for it to work in the magazine published once a month. Working for the AP, I think news all the time.

The police decided to surround the troublemakers, but the protesters did not want to be arrested voluntarily.
However, the police decided to apprehend the troublemakers, but the protesters did not want to be arrested voluntarily.

While it is not the same speed working for CT compared to the AP, I enjoy doing magazine articles as well, and in December I wrote about the lack of communication between evangelicals in Kosovo and Serbia in the article Divided by Distrust.

Sincerely

--
Kristian Kahrs, foreign journalist
Norwegian mobile: +4793002522
http://home.no.net/kkahrs


The police used police dogs, horses, nightsticks and pepper spray to control the situation.
The police used police dogs, horses, nightsticks and pepper spray to control the situation.

Finally they controlled the protesters.
Finally they controlled the protesters.

In the end, 18 violent protesters were arrested by the police. I'm sure they got a nice fine for fighting with the police.
In the end, 18 violent protesters were arrested by the police. I'm sure they got a nice fine for fighting with the police.



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