War theater moving
As terror story shifts, about half of TV journalists do, too
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/20/2002 7:00:00 PM
American news organizations have pulled about half their forces out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, although a sizable brigade of reporters, producers and technicians remains. In early October, the five major news outlets—ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC (sharing with MSNBC)—counted about 250 staffers; these days, the number is closer to 125.
Central Asia is still the conflict's epicenter, but the frontier extends now from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the Philippines.
CNN claims the strongest presence in Central Asia with about 40 staffers, down from about 55 early on. The broadcast networks have halved their ranks. ABC and CBS are maintaining about 20 staffers each, while NBC and MSNBC share 25.
MSNBC President Erik Sorenson says the NBC-MSNBC partnership becomes increasingly valuable as the stories spread across the globe. "Today and NightlyNews need coverage, and we do, too. There's much less pressure than if we were trying to go it alone."
In October, Fox News Channel tallied about 40 employees, but representatives would not update figures. Geraldo Rivera is reporting lately from Somalia.
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather is on his second trip; MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield on her third.
Working conditions in Afghanistan have greatly improved. Early on, crews endured Spartan living and struggled to keep equipment functioning in wind and dust storms. "They aren't in a war zone anymore," said Chuck Lustig, ABC News director of foreign news coverage. "We can get equipment and food in now."
Despite the Taliban defeat, execs say security's still a concern. Eight journalists have died covering the conflict so far.
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