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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, October 21, 2004

Iraq's bloggers

The real Iraq (?):
BAGHDAD, Iraq--Basking in the sun by the Al Hamra Hotel swimming pool, a Spanish journalist complained to me that â€all my editors want is blood, blood, blood. No context. No politics.

Such editors are cruising to be scooped by such local Iraqi blogs as Iraq the Model, which last summer debunked a Los Angeles Times story on the departure of Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer. The Times told its readers that Bremer had fled abruptly, â€afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.†In fact, as Iraq the Model reported, Mr. Bremer before leaving delivered a television address that gave a moving account of his tenure and his hopes for the new all-Iraqi interim government.

The bloggers had heard it, the L.A. Times reporter had not. The paper ultimately had to correct its account, though never acknowledging the indignant Iraqis who caught its snide oversight.

Meet one of those bloggers, Ali Fadhil, a key author of Iraq the Model, perhaps the best known of the blogs, with 7,000 individual visitors a day. Thirty-four years old, a Sunni, Fadhil is a cheerful Baghdad doctor who contributes news and commentary.

Medical students in Iraq use English in their classrooms, so doctors are overrepresented among English-language bloggers, as they are among translators. All of the main contributors to Iraq the Model are young physicians who see a cross-section of Iraqi patients daily and have witnessed, Ali says, a steep improvement in medical services since Saddam was overthrown.

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