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How We Cover War and Uncover History

4 minute read
James Kelly

When Briton Hadden and Henry Luce invented the newsmagazine in 1923, they had the brash idea that TIME would “serve the modern necessity of keeping people informed.” Hadden and Luce were clearly on to something: today TIME is by far the world’s largest newsmagazine, with more than 5 million subscribers. Our mission has also evolved with the times, so every week we try to offer readers an unparalleled mix of reporting, analysis, photography and graphics, all designed to help you better understand an increasingly complex world.

We’ve been planning for the start of Gulf War II for months, so when the bombing began last week, we had more than two dozen journalists in the region. As you will see in the following pages, our colleagues very quickly witnessed the grimness of war. Last Saturday in northern Iraq, Michael Ware and photographer Kate Brooks were reporting on al-Qaeda-linked guerrillas when a suicide bomber detonated a taxi, killing five people, including an Australian cameraman. Early Sunday, Jim Lacey was sleeping in his tent in Camp Pennsylvania, in northern Kuwait, when he suddenly heard loud bangs. Two grenades had exploded 10 yards away, in the tents housing officers of the 101st Airborne. More than a dozen were wounded, and at least one was killed. The detained suspect: an American soldier. Photographer Benjamin Lowy captured the chaos on film.

As Baghdad was pounded, photographers James Nachtwey, Yuri Kozyrev and Patrick Robert stayed in the Palestine Hotel recording the event and the aftermath for the magazine even as reporter Saad Hattar attempted to gauge the regime’s longevity–and was expelled for his trouble.

Paul Quinn-Judge was in the Kurdish town of Sulaymaniyah planning the most fruitful way to enter Iraqi territory if and when the regime collapses. And to the west, in Arbil, Joshua Kucera, gas mask at the ready, monitored the machinations of Kurdish nationalists and the Iraqi opposition who are waiting for Saddam’s demise.

In the south, Alex Perry and photographer Christopher Morris traveled with a combat unit of the 3rd Infantry Division. Simon Robinson and photographer Robert Nickelsberg camped outside Basra with the 1st Marines Division. In the gulf, Meenakshi Ganguly watched bombers take off from the deck of the U.S.S. Constellation for runs at the Iraqi mainland. Brian Bennett, with the 332nd Expeditionary Wing, monitored troop movements from an air base south of the Iraqi border. Sally Donnelly was in Qatar to cover General Tommy Franks, while Terry McCarthy waited in Kuwait to join the second wave heading for Baghdad.

Elsewhere in the issue, we mark our 80th anniversary by looking at the past eight decades and picking 80 days that changed the world, an idea that grew out of the impact of 9/11. Mikhail Gorbachev recounts for us his first day on the job running the disintegrating Soviet Union–and how he broke the news to his wife Raisa the night before he accepted the post. Robert McNamara takes us inside the White House on the pivotal day of the Cuban missile crisis, while Betty Friedan describes the scene at an official Washington lunch where she and some colleagues exchanged table napkins on which they wrote the charter for the National Organization for Women. Carrie Fisher tells about the day when Star Wars premiered and her identity as Princess Leia Organa became larger than life. Senate majority leader Bill Frist recounts how the news of the world’s first heart transplant inspired him to become a cardiac surgeon, and Cantor Fitzgerald chief Howard Lutnick gives an eyewitness account of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center that foreshadowed 9/11.

The special report, conceived and overseen by Steve Koepp, was edited by Janice Simpson and Howard Chua-Eoan. Christine Dunleavy designed the pages, Robert Stevens tracked down the photos and Barbara Maddux led the reporting and research. The series is a remarkable reminder of how a single incident, whether it grabs headlines immediately or is barely noticed at the time, can shape history for decades to come. In a time of war and uncertainty, every new day has the potential to be one of those pivotal moments.

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