Inside Move: Newsies huddle as bullets fly

Journos cooperate amid danger, fear in Iraq

The war in Iraq may have heated up, but the news nets are giving peace a chance.

Always competitive, the broadcast network news divisions and their cable counterparts have put aside their individual agendas for more than a month now, pooling their coverage of the Fallujah war zone on an unprecedented scale. They’re even talking on the phone with one another for up to 45 minutes a day.

Credit the level of danger and fear in Iraq for the spirit of cooperation; no one can remember another war zone so dangerous for the media.

“Our phone coversations are contentious at times because we are very competitive, but when it comes to the safety and security of our people, that comes first,” says CNN chief news exec Eason Jordan, the net’s point man on the matter.

Even the formation of the Fallujah pool reflects the dire circumstances facing reporters in Iraq. Spreading the risk around, the two-person camera crew comes from one news network, with the producer drawn from another. The pool is embedded with U.S. troops.

Last week, the pool was expanded to include a correspondent, who will be seen on all the nets.

The news nets also decided to embed a solo correspondent with a separate troop division in Fallujah who will provide pool reports for each of the news net Web sites. For now, that person is Kevin Sites, an NBC correspondent.

Jordan says news execs from the respective orgs talk virtually every day by phone.

The call of all calls comes each Thursday, when reps from the outside security companies being used by the nets come on the line, discussing the perils of not just Fallujah but Baghdad and other hot spots.

“There hasn’t been anything like this in my 22 years,” Jordan says.