07/27/insider/terror-attacks- victims-reporting.html? comments#permid=19289336
The Times’s international desk found information about the lives of 222 people who were victims of terrorist attacks during a two-week period — 90 percent of the 247 total victims.
My comments on New York Times article:
2 Weeks, 8 Terror Attacks, 247 Victims: How We Learned Their Stories
Ghulam MuhammedMumbai, India 3 hours ago
Thanks for informing your readers about the length you go deep behind the headlines of terror attacks to get the picture of the human tragedy involved. However, as a reader I find that you lack in one aspect. You are not covering the mastermind behind this wave of terror attacks. It is assumed by one and all, especially in Western media, that ISIS or Alquida or one of the extremist cultists are behind these worldwide carnival of blood-shedding. But there is strong possibility that agencies in the West themselves are behind such terror attacks. You may treat it as conspiracy theory. But there is no harm in putting the other side under your lens. Your readers are aware of the constraints that you work within. But to that much, then leaves your efforts lacking in full justice to know and spread the truth in whatever packages it is given to you. You may leave the final judgement to your readers. This is in no way dimishes the value of your journalistic excellence in bringing facts as far as possible to the general public at large. Especially as it is the hallmark of New York Times since its inception.
2 Weeks, 8 Terror Attacks, 247 Victims: How We Learned Their Stories
Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how news, features and opinion come together at The New York Times. In this piece, Jodi Rudoren, deputy international editor of The Times, explains what was involved in deploying dozens of people around the world to develop fuller portraits of “these lives that were cut short.”
There is something of a journalistic routine each time terror erupts. Cover the news, of course, and put it into geopolitical context. Capture the drama of the scene. Pursue every tidbit about the attackers. And, perhaps most wrenchingly, try to showcase the human suffering.
Those tasked with profiling the victims typically scour social-media profiles and interview stricken relatives and friends, then cobble together anecdotes into an article that highlights a few individuals and summarizes whatever is known about the rest. Sometimes there are fuller stories about a single victim of particular note, a family or a group.
After the Bastille Day massacre in Nice, France, for example, The Times produced a heart-wrenching look at the father and son from Texas mowed down among the masses, followed by a broader take on the children among the 84 killed — and the ones who survived.
It never feels like enough.
During what seemed like a particularly intense spate of attacks back in March, we decided it was not enough. We were still collecting tidbits about the victims of the Islamic State’s suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and subway station on March 22 when the same extremist group hit a soccer stadium in Iraq on March 25, killing 36. Two days later the Talibanstruck a park in Lahore, Pakistan, murdering 76 people at play on a Sunday afternoon.
We decided not to move on but to look back. To find out as much as we could about every single human being slain in a mass killing anywhere, to trace the ripple effects of the violence, to identify the things that connected people across places or distinguished one from the other. Simply put: to show terrorism’s human toll.
At first we set out to cover the month of March. But the attacks kept coming, so we scaled back to two weeks, for fear of being overwhelmed. Those two weeks included eight attacks in six countries; 247 men, women and children taken forever.
We didn’t know it was 247 when we started. In several cases, our reporters on the ground found victims that local officials had failed to count. We deployed 29 people around the world to collect their names, their photographs and the details of these lives that were cut short.
In partnership with The Times’s data visualists, editors on the international desk created interactive interview forms to collate parallel information about each individual. We needed the basics: name, age, hometown, nationality, religion, job. We also asked if the victim knew anyone else killed in the same attack. How many immediate relatives did he leave behind? How many years of education had she completed? We left space for narrative details and asked contributors to provide any snapshots they could find.
It was arduous and intense. Chris Stein, a journalist in Nigeria, was prevented by a military checkpoint from getting to Ummarari, the village where Boko Haram blew apart a mosque on March 13, killing 30 people at prayer. Instead, working with a local fixer, he managed to cajole a steady stream of villagers to come to his hotel in Maiduguri.
The Human Toll of Terror
A look at the lives of 247 men, women and children who were cut down in mass killings in six countries.
But electricity is spotty there, so they had to either search for a shady spot outside in the 100-degree heat or talk in Chris’s stuffy, lightless hotel room. People in Ummarari are known by an assortment of nicknames, so just figuring out who was who was a challenge. None of the 30 victims had a social-media profile or even a mobile phone; the only photos Chris could find were three identity cards.
In Iraq, several of the names on the government’s official list of victims did not match the names relatives gave to our stringer, Omar Al-Jawoshy, requiring painstaking crosschecking with people who were in mourning. In Pakistan, many of the 76 victims of the Taliban attack had been visiting Lahore from remote areas up to two days’ travel away, but Daniyal Hassan, the stringer there, still managed to gather details on 59 of them.
In all, we compiled information about 222 of the victims — 90 percent of the total. A fifth of them, 44, were under 18. More than 60 percent were Muslim. More than half were killed alongside spouses, relatives, friends or acquaintances. They had 26 different nationalities.
Beyond any statistical analysis, though, the power of this project was in looking at the mass of individual humanity. At the photographs that showed them living. At the little things survivors shared about those they had lost.
Ghaith Ahmed Abdullah Dewan, 10, was wearing a new outfit when he headed out to the soccer game in Iraq.
Jean-Pierre Arnaud, 75, killed after a bike ride to the beach in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, was a “radical Cartesian” who liked to ask questions and would call at 1 a.m. just to make a point, according to his friend Jorge Martinez.
Falmata Ba, 4, always carried around a baby doll. Sabrina Esmael Fazal, 24, liked to cook Congolese dishes for friends. Oguzhan Dura, 43, was a photographer, stamp collector and old camera aficionado.
Henrike Grohs, 51, loved reggae music. Yakura Gambo, 6, drew birds and other animals in the sand. Berkay Bas, 21, bought his brother clothes with his school money.
Javeria Shahid, 2, wouldn’t bother anyone as long as she could watch her cartoons.
Muhammed Hauwa, 70, took in the 16-year-old son of a friend who had died in Nigeria. Mustapha Mohammad, 61, who was killed in the same attack, was an elder expected to settle disputes between neighbors.
Johan Van Steen, 58, was an amateur photographer who told his subjects not to force laughter or other expressions, because, as his partner, Kristin Verellen, put it, “he really wanted to go to the naked essence of people.”
Patricia Rizzo, 48, loved to dance; her favorite band was Coldplay. Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz, 36, wanted to open a Peruvian restaurant in Brussels. Shahroon Pitras, 15, was called “King” by his friends.
Mustapha Maina, a firecutter and farmer in Ummarari who was about 40, listened to BBC broadcasts about Boko Haram and “always prayed that God should crush them,” said Tijjani Abacha, a family friend. They got him instead.
Follow Jodi Rudoren on Twitter @rudoren.