Afghanistan: A day in the Life of Qais Faqiri
If freedom of the press and the free flow of ideas are essential for a democratic society, how do the craft and ethics of journalism get established in a country where there is no history or tradition of a free press, where media had historically been used as a government mouthpiece, and where western standards of journalism are unknown? How can citizens be informed in a country where a large part of the population cannot read?
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting, a London based non-profit organization, is devoted to this task. IWPR operates in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Belarus, and most of the former Soviet Central Asian countries. With a very small budget, and dependent wholly on grants and donations, it reports on more than 40 regions from over 20 bureaus around the world. It couldn’t be done before the widespread availability of the Internet and cell-phone communications, and more importantly a staff passionately committed to their mission.
A husband and wife team of freelance journalists, Cliff Orloff and Olga Shalygin, recently visited northern Afghanistan and documented the work of Qais Faqiri, one of the young journalists working out of the Mazar-i-Sharif office of IWPR.