BROOKE GLADSTONE: We're back with On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. In post Saddam Hussein Iraq, newspapers have sprouted up all over Baghdad, but despite the intense competition for readers, there is but one new publication in English. The semi-monthly Baghdad Bulletin launched in June chronicles the struggles of daily life in Iraq and is reported by a handful of mainly young Brits. Recent topics include Baghdad's struggling stock exchange, booming real estate market and poor water quality. Roughly 10,000 copies of each edition are distributed door to door to UN and coalition offices and other English-speaking outposts in Iraq and Jordan. The Baghdad Bulletin describes itself as a "non-partisan publication whose only tenet is that the presence of a free press offering a forum for all sides is an inalienable human right." David Enders, a recent University of Michigan grad is editor in chief of the Bulletin and he joins me now from Baghdad. David, welcome to On the Media.
DAVID ENDERS: Hey! Thanks a lot.
BOB GARFIELD: I know this question is going to sound condescending and I honestly don't mean for it to be, but--
DAVID ENDERS: It, it's okay.
BOB GARFIELD: -- [LAUGHS] you have just left college; most of your colleagues have just left college or, or were still in college in England. There's very little journalistic experience among you. Do you have any idea what you're doing?
DAVID ENDERS: Well, you know, I'm winging a lot of it. I'll admit that. I did work for the Associated Press and the New York Times in the States, and I was an editor at my college paper, at the Michigan Daily which has a circulation of 18,000 and publishes five times a week. So I do know how to kind of run a newsroom and, and get people where they're going. It's just like running a newspaper anywhere else. The usual suspects are a little different. Instead of the police chief we have generals.
BOB GARFIELD: Tell me what you're working on for the next issue.
DAVID ENDERS:Well we've got a story about Iraqi Jews; we have a story about different NGOs being attacked; a story about the new Iraqi Army. We've got a story about who's rewriting the textbooks. Detainees [LAUGHS] have been an issue virtually every issue -- the thousands of people the U.S. is holding just like they are in the States; their families don't know where they are.
BOB GARFIELD:Your publication at the moment is being distributed for free, which means that once you've burned through all of your founding capital, that you're relying on advertising to make a go of it. Do you have any advertising?
DAVID ENDERS: We do have advertising. Started to get some British advertising. We have a lot of Iraqi advertising, actually. The problem with that is it's not traditionally the way that people have promoted their businesses here, so we're not able to charge very much. We're working on a deal with some people in the Gulf, but we'd like to see more international advertising.
BOB GARFIELD: Tell me please what's your biggest reporting coup so far and the circumstances of getting that story.
DAVID ENDERS:Well, I don't know if you can really call it a coup. No one's handing us secret documents or anything like that. But basically just the fact that we're reporting locally from Baghdad. If you take a look at our site, I think you'll get an entirely different picture of the stuff that's coming out of the official briefings and what we're reporting.
BOB GARFIELD: What is the difference?
DAVID ENDERS:Well, for instance, the electricity problem. All the time Mr. Bremer, the civilian administrator here, quotes virtually impossible electricity figures which then get reported in the American media and distributed to millions of people. We're here actually going to the engineers who work at the generation plants, and they're telling us that those are impossible figures. And also, a lot of the things you see are the bang, bang, shoot 'em up type stuff, and the fact of the matter is that Baghdad is a city of around 6 million people, and most people aren't even necessarily anti-occupation. They just want the basic services restored, and, and the people right now attacking American troops are, are a minority of the population. That could change soon if things don't start getting better.
BOB GARFIELD:You arrived there, I guess to some degree it must have seemed like just a big adventure. At any point have you felt that you were in over your head?
DAVID ENDERS: Yeah. Security is a constant concern. We rely on our local writers. We have Iraqi writers. We have translators, drivers --actually the bulk of our staff is Iraqi. And we rely on them to tell us when things aren't safe, when we're somewhere where we shouldn't be. Yeah, it, it's, it's a constant concern, and you deal with that.
BOB GARFIELD: Is the Baghdad Bulletin going to make it? Are you going to be able to continue publishing let's say for six months' time?
DAVID ENDERS:Yeah. And I think as times goes on and visibility increases, the advertising revenue will start coming in, and then the long-term plan is, is one in Arabic, one in English. We're already printing some of it in Arabic. So yeah, I'm planning on being here a while and eventually finding someone local to take my position and leaving this here as something that's entirely locally owned and operated.
BOB GARFIELD:Could the Baghdad Bulletin be destroyed by its own success with other news organizations picking you or your colleagues off to work for them for, you know, real money or whatever else that a large news organization could offer?
DAVID ENDERS: It's possible. [LAUGHS] Right now a lot of journalists are leaving the country. Some of them are going to Liberia, and for some reason there seems to be a, a waning interest, even as things get worse here. So yeah, there's that possibility, but at the same time I've been getting hundreds of unsolicited e-mails -- people saying "Hey --I'm a J student. I want to come out. I want to work with you guys." "Hey, I have a job at CBS New York. I'm tired of corporate media." [LAUGHS] "I want to come out and work with you guys." So I, I think even if for some of our writers this is the stepping stone and they move on from this, we'll always be able to find young people who want this chance.
BOB GARFIELD: Well, David, thank you very much!
DAVID ENDERS: Thanks for having me!
BOB GARFIELD: David Enders is editor in chief of the Baghdad Bulletin. He spoke to us by satellite phone from Baghdad.