Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From Broadway to Baghdad

It's pretty common for reporters to change beats after they've been covering the same topic for awhile, but this has to be the mother of all beat changes - Campbell Robertson, who covers Broadway for The New York Times, has a new assignment, in Baghdad.

Robertson, 31, a 1998 graduate of Georgetown University, started at the Times as a clerk, and later wrote the Names column in the paper's metro section. He just covered the Tony awards for the Times. Iraq isn't what comes to mind when I think of the next logical step in his career.

“Look, he’s an untraditional war correspondent the way a lot of us are,” Jim Glanz, the Times' Iraq bureau chief, told the New York Observer newspaper. “He’s coming from a different background and point of view from everyone else there. And right now, we can use some fresh ideas and perspectives.”

Susan Chira, the Times' foreign editor, says the paper is taking a "really strategic approach" to covering Iraq.
“Sure, in 2004 the place was blowing up, and things are calmer now, but there are different stories. We’re completely committed, and we don’t think it’s going away.” She praised Robertson, calling him “a terrific writer and dogged reporter."

Going to Iraq is not a decision you make lightly. It's an important story and I admire Robertson for wanting to take it on. So good luck Campbell, and stay safe.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I heard about this over the weekend and was floored. Going from the theatre of New York to a theatre of war had me absolutely astonished. Godspeed, Campbell Robertson, Godspeed!

Esther said...

Yeah, it is kind of astonishing. But I think the Times is an incredibly competitive place, and this is one way to get ahead. Plus, he may have just fallen into covering Broadway because the job was open. It may not have been his lifelong ambition. Maybe this is the kind of thing he wanted to do all along. Some reporters just want to be where the big story is happening.