Former Reuters correspondent Chris Allbritton speaks at a
University of Otago seminar on journalism and the war on
terror. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A former Reuters Middle East conflict zone correspondent
has taken a shot at the media's term ''war on terror'', saying
it is nothing more than ''hideously overused'' marketing.
During a seminar at the University of Otago yesterday, Chris
Allbritton said the term was a wonderful marketing slogan,
perhaps even a great bumper sticker, but was definitely a
terrible phrase coined by the George Bush administration.
''The Bush administration was very good at marketing.
''I think it's simplistic - it leads to no real concept of
victory or when it [the war on terror] will end.
''I think it's deliberately sloppy thinking, to justify
whatever the Bush administration wanted to do.''
Mr Allbritton has spent much of the past decade living and
working in the Middle East, as former bureau chief for
Thomson Reuters in Pakistan and a freelance reporter for Time
magazine and other publications. He is noted as being the
pioneer of reader-funded reporting through his
back-to-iraq.com website, which he established in 2002.
For six years, he was paid by readers to cover the conflict
He has received the John S. Knight Fellowship for media
research at Stanford University and written for the
Associated Press in New York.
Mr Allbritton's most recent work in Pakistan ended when he
discovered his name was on ''a Taliban list'. He was
evacuated from the country soon after.
He told about 40 people at the University of Otago seminar
that life in conflict zones was dangerous at times, with
several of his journalist friends being kidnapped. He had
been shot at while working.
However, his experiences had led him to believe ''war on
terror'' was a misnomer.
''The war on terror is a difficult phrasing. We're always
going to have terror; we're always going to have drugs and
we're always going to have poverty.
''The number of Americans who die from terrorism is far, far,
far less than the number of Americans who die in car wrecks
''I think the danger of being killed in a terrorist attack is
''It's highly unlikely that al Qaeda is going to bomb the
United States. It's highly unlikely the ghost of Osama bin
Laden is going to spook around London.''
Since leaving Pakistan, Mr Allbritton had become ''nomadic''
and spent much of his time running his blog site www.trulynomadlydeeply.com,
documenting ''global slow travel in a jet-speed age''.