Sign of the Times


You know there is a generation gap when this happens. Scene: my brother and cousins are bragging about how they can bypass certain security systems at their high school so they can get Facebook and Twitter on their laptops.

Me: Yeh, we used to do that too. I remember when AIM was blocked and it was big deal when someone found a way to download the German version.

Brother: What?
Cousin: Yeh, AIM?
Me: You know, instant messaging?
Me: America Online? AOL? American Online Instant Messaging!
Brother: No.
Me: Yes! Before there was twitter and Facebook, there was AIM.
Cousin: Um, ok.

Then I sighed.

On Taking Calculated Risks [Excerpt]


An excerpt from Holly Pickett's blog "The Pickett Lens" on being asked to accompany a LA Times reporter to Kandahar, Afghanistan:

I wouldn’t have gone to Kandahar on my own, but this was to be Soraya’s third trip there and she has been reporting from conflict zones for 10 years. She has lived and worked in Afghanistan for the past three years. I trust her judgment. And she offered me the opportunity not just to provide visual content for NPR’s website, but also to experience a place and a people that few outsiders get to see, and to do it relatively safely.

It was too tempting to pass up.

Journalists take calculated risks everyday. Just being here in Afghanistan is risky. Every time we leave the security of the hotel or guest house, there are risks. We weigh the need to work on an important and compelling story with the ability to do it as safely as possible.

Working in Kandahar presented some challenges.

For the first time ever, I wore a burqa to work. I had to work quickly, never staying in one place for longer than 20 minutes. I tried not to attract attention to myself, the car, the driver, the translator or Soraya. I traveled in a nondescript small car, changed my daily routine outside of the guest house and tried to think a little like the enemy. I thought about where I would strike if I was a bomber or a kidnapper and tried not to put myself in those situations; or if I had to go there, I didn't stay long. And some places were simply off limits.

No matter how many precautions you take, or how many things you do to try to prevent something bad from happening, bad things can still happen. But if we let fear completely take over, no stories would be written, no photographs would be taken. One piece of advice somebody gave me before I left for Kandahar was, "Just do your work and take care of yourself and don't worry about the rest." A way of saying, you can only worry about what is in your control.

photo by Holly Pickett