Interview with Alive in Baghdad’s Brian Conley

story link: alive in baghdad – a blog of content from iraqis extra: lost archive releases a) joanne’s first correspondent piece [archive] b) rb’s sherng-lee huang interviews robert mackey of the nytimes worldcup blog [archive] c) rb correspondent graham walker covers the world cup from berlin with we all speak football [archive]

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Posted to Interviews
August 2, 2006 • 8:08 am | Permalink


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  • Tools says:

    Great coverage of good news.

  • Topher says:

    Great piece. Technically, any video piece is archive footage.

    Slight faux pax: Update the masthead of today's Boom. It reads "with Amanda Congdon".

  • B-man 2.0 says:

    Speaking of reality I think...

    "Dead in Bagdad" seems more appropriate.

    And what's with the rooftop, were there snipers in the area? Or were you waiting for Spidey man?

  • fudgy says:

    Some real substance - though I'll leave editorializing to others. RB has a real new feel. I get the impression things have progressed behind the camera at least as much. I'll continue be an everyday'er.

  • ctb says:

    I am impressed with Joanne's interviewing skills. She seems to be able to take in and intelligently process what the interviewee is saying, and then delve further into the topic. Very nice, and also in response to Aaron, I would say that this is highly timely material.

  • Very interesting interview. The iraqi coorespondents really can provide a nice counterbalance to the American reporter POV. Thanks for sharing.

  • rayo says:

    Very nice!!! It shows the differnce old media (live) news & new media (alive) news. Alive in Baghdad is more personal. You really get answers to why still no peace in Iraq, etc. Answers that old meadia outlets would only guess at

  • pileve says:

    It's my opinion that Rocketboom is getting things under control. I've enjoyed seeing the transition, and it's obvious to me that this was an unplanned shake-up. Good work Drew.

    Joanne is perfect for Rocketboom. Her talk is not crude, and that's good. She's great with interviews. I like her style.

  • Bluebeard says:

    Lame. It's like all the life has been drained out of Rocketboom. And it's not that I don't like Joanne. She's adorable. But I keep checking back every day and every day I'm disappointed. Too bad.

  • SteveL says:

    Great job. I think this is an area where the internet and vlogs can really make a difference.
    BTW- I saw Amanda's vlog yesterday. She had feet.

  • porkchop says:

    Interesting, wish there was more coverage.

  • J.W. says:

    I'm glad that Alive in Baghdad exists and that you're promoting it.

    Precisely the thing the internet was meant for.

    Thanks RB et al.

  • tracycakes says:

    This was really great. My personal favorite episode. I think this is the future of RB...a bit more serious...which is refreshing and works well with the style of your new host. Really, I have goosebumps...I'm excited.

  • Grawp says:

    Thanks for the continued coverage of stories we can't get anywhere else!

  • Ken says:

    My gosh... I am blown away at the content of this mornings show. It has me all choaked up and feeling that there even more important issues beyond my world of excistance. We are often so self-centered here in America and we should be ashamed of ourselves.

    I fear we may never learn to look beyond ourselves and be a hand of goodness, mercy & grace to others.

    A sincere heartfelt (welling tears) thank you for bringing this piece to us today.

    Thank you Joanne, thank you Drew!

  • BobM says:

    Great piece. Nice interview, timely.

  • Chumpy says:

    Very nice piece! I wasn't aware of Alive in Baghdad so just to hear their story and mission was worth it to me. I will bookmark their site as I tend to grow tired of the western-biased news. Nice job.

  • B-man 2.0 says:

    Egregious, the Lebanese people got what they voted for. A weak, impotent gov't who's in bed with Hezbullah, otherwise, the PM of Lebanon would have pushed for UN proclamation 1550 over the past 6 six years (yes they've had 6 years to get rid of these scumbags) that stated Hizbullah must to be disarmed.
    The Lebanese army is 60,000 strong. There are about 6,000 terrorists. Well, you do the math.

    On another note: I stated "Dead in Bagdad" in my previous post because I'm sure those DEAD Iraqis and families have stories to tell too.

    I'm sure they were once artists, filmakers, or plumbers. But now they are just everyday statistics, just DEAD numbers. Who cares?

    Just like the dead Israeli's from the incessant terrorist homocide bombings over decades and now the dead men, women and children from 2000 rockets fired. WHO CARES? RIGHT! I don't see pics of dead Israeli splattering over the front pages, do you?

    AIB is admirable, but do they have a long way to go in honoring Life Itself.

    (I wouldn't normally post something so political on the RB, yet today's content makes it relevant.

  • Good piece highlighting how disenfranchized men and women can be helped with a visual voice.

  • range says:

    Good show of citizen journalism, especially more relevant since it's coming directly from the people in Baghdad living the situation

  • butterfly says:

    New Amanda just doesn't do it for me.

  • allah in bagdad, in god we trust, poor arabic people.
    you are an interesting interviewer joan!!!! you can interview me whenever you want you know.

  • Excellent piece....manages to focus on topic without decending to politics...great site to add to my list as well.

    Another good job RB staff! Good interview JC!!!!

  • pcrobot says:

    Nice idea... I'll check 'em out!

  • Mart says:

    Great episode. I do not understand why Rick refers to terrorists in Iraq when the situation has evolved into a religous civil war i.e. genocide.

    Amazing how the spin to blame the civilians so it is OK to take 'em out with the bad guys has taken hold with the pro-war faction. They miss the irony of Osama blaming the people of the USA for voting in politicians that insist on having troops in the mid-east - so we are all appropriate targets in Osama's view.

  • Hi Joanne

    Nice interview.

  • Randel says:

    I don't get the roof location but the story and reporting style is relaxed and intellegent. Glad someone is thinking outside the box. I agree that reporting aired on cable and networks is full of B.S. It's all so offical and pontificating and subjective. And just when we don't think it can get any worse, soon we are going to have an anchor from the Today Show and a former cheerleader on CBS. Ugh.

  • Al says:

    Nice one - interesting way to sort out the background issue - without the map (or was it all green screen).

    Joanne - you didn't need to shout - these mics are good at picking up voices! ;-)

    This is what makes RB - not the presenter - the content and the diversity of stories that I wouldn't easily have access to.

    I also watched the 10th July Berlin street football episode today. These are the episodes that I remember and talk about, but they work when mixeed in with all the other stuff.

    Keep it going.

  • jimster, we are currently seeking Kurdish correspondents, as well as trying to expand our shi'ite crew.

    Unfortunately the situation in Baghdad is such that without shi'ite correspondents it will be nearly impossible to cover the entirety of life in Baghdad.

    At this point, interviewing Kurds is not so difficult, for example one of our correspondents is engaged to a woman with a Kurdish father and Arab mother.

    If anyone has contacts in Baghdad, please let us know. I suspect if this project is successful in the coming months, we'll expand outside Baghdad with much excitement.

    To the rest of you, thanks for your kind words, and your criticism is noted. I hope that you will continue to watch Alive in Baghdad after today and look there for news and views from Iraq.

    I will be travelling back to Iraq in September as we expand our coverage and put a new site into action that will provide easier navigation.

    I'll be keeping an eye on the comments here and my post again later!

    alive in baghdad coordinator

  • crxvfr says:

    How cool. Thanks for posting Brian and letting us know the show is more than just a show. There are way more important things to focus on than comparing old host to new host. I'm sick of those posts. What good do they do anyone?

  • dr moore says:

    great content.jc 51%

  • Steve Woolf says:

    Alive in Baghdad represents the best of what videoblogs can be. Unfiltered voices are so badly needed in this world. Kudos to them for doing a brave thing.

  • HARTLESS says:

    Am I the only one that noticed the distinct similarities between Joanne and the Iraqi artist in this piece?

  • Doc T. says:

    Good serious informative piece. Liked the way Joanne handled the interview and liked the way the piece was edited and assembled. More like this, please - and thank you.

  • Tuesday says:

    While I liked the piece from a pure information standpoint...I wonder about the real motive behind aliveinbaghdad. Isn't this just an anti-war site in sheeps clothing?

  • Tuesday, am *I* against war? Sure, but so is my grandfather who fought in Korea and voted for Bush twice.

    So is every soldier I've ever met who supported or opposed my work on

    Now, about our correspondents, are they anti-war? Well, one of them was kidnapped and beaten for his work, something that might or might not have happened under Saddam, depending on whether he was criticizing Saddam-at this time he was just shooting b-roll of life in Baghdad, and happened to be at a gas station controlled by the Mahdi army.

    And all of them know dozens of people who have been killed in Iraq over the last three months, so are they anti-war?

    Or are they just trying to make some sense of the devastation of one country by another?

    Or are they just trying to raise the awareness of the international community about life in Baghdad in 2006?

    You be the judge. If you like the content, keep watching, if not, I hope you can start a videoblog that provides cameras to Iraqis who agree with your point of view. For me, I just want to give cameras to Iraqis, if they are proAmerican or Anti-American, that's their business.

    If they can't tell a good story or provide video on time for our viewers, that's my business.

    Feel free to email me any concerns, suggestions, comments, or if you'd like to help out!

    aliveinbaghdad at

  • filmex says:

    In that Rick, Egregious and others found today's RB to somehow be a sparkplug for fighting the non-existent pro-Hezbollah lobby, let me offer a contrarian opinion.

    Rick's naive sentiments about forcing Hezbollah out of your neighborhood would be find if Hezbollah didn't tend to pass through villages, which Israel then sees fit to destroy. And while Egregious notes the forces that removed Syria from Lebanon, he forgets (or ignores) that it was Hezballah that forced Israel out of Lebanon after its 18-year occupation.

    And while he quotes one Lebanese citizen angry with Hezballah, he seemingly ignores the millions of formerly neutral Lebanese who now despise Israel, and America, for offering Israel diplomatic cover and endless expensive munitions. Even Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have shifted views since this latest conflict, now sympathizing with Hezballah rather than Israel.

    It's hard to make the case you are victims, as Israel does, when your soldiers are not kidnapped from Israel, but from Israeli occupied territories. It's hard to make the case that you fear for your lives when some 50 Israelis have died (mostly soldiers) compared with close to 800 Lebanese, virtually all civilians. And, like Katrina, most of those are the young, the poor, the elderly~those without the means to flee the ever-shifting battle zones.

    Israel made a catastrophic miscalculation in their response to this matter. They have seemingly been dumbed down by their connection to the Bushites, having adopted the Rumsfeld doctrine of utilizing air power to win a conflict that can't be determined by air power, and using just enough ground troops to lose.

    Israel has made a massive PR blunder with its continued annihilation of innocent civilians. They have completely lost the moral imperative, as the whole world is taken back to a time when the SS would avenge the killing of one Nazi soldier with the deaths of 20 innocent civilians in Holland, France or Czechoslovakia.

    Israel spent the 80s and 90s trying to destroy Hezballah. Now they have made them stronger and more important than ever before. Only fools engage in the same action over and over and expect the results to change.

  • Toma says:

    "How do we keep our correpsondents safe" is THE question. If it's true that people worldwide want democracy (I argue that a majority does, but not all), then why the danger? See Peter Gabriel's for more about this issue. I feel it's the one question that - if we can answer this intelligently in the blogging community - will literally make our world a safer place to express freely.

  • Joanne - excellent job with the interview. fascinating choice of location.

  • cw says:

    Excellent show--- nice exposure for this project - and for video blogging... just like the good old days of RB! It's time to turn the heat up on ending this war...

    Amanda was great alone - but not good at interviews-- JoCo has her beat... I'm really enjoying RB these days...

    Agree with other comments about limits of new media - but come on... nobody has said it is the answer...

    la- not very profound... cheers

  • Drewster says:

    Nice to see the anti Joanne dialogue fade out. It'd be good to see less of the comparisons over Amanda too. Amanda has a place in RB and it is hers. Joanne couldn't do the things that Amanda did, and probably doesn't want to anyway.
    This interview was great! The editing was superb. Most importantly however, the message was real, and important. This reminds me of that episode several weeks before about that village in Africa and the efforts to bring helth services to those in need. WTG guys! Keep up the glorious work to be proud of. Now.... lets see something silly!! =P

  • CGHill says:

    Somehow, I was not prepared to see a map in the very first frame.

  • d henry says:

    Brian (and Drew), you have done us all a favor with such a fine program. And I agree that Joanne handled the interview very well. Days like this I am proud of Rocketboom and very thankful too.

  • crxvfr says:

    Keep them safe by keeping them anonymous. I was suprised to hear names being mentioned. You can bet putting their names and faces on thw world wide web will make them a target. Judging by the things I've seen on tv, it seems just finding people willing to talk is hard to do.

  • B-man 2.0 says:

    Filmex, better learn some history before spouting your islmofascist rhetoric.

    Listen to a native Lebanese on the topic

  • packie says:

    This show is Joanne's area of talent. She does far better engaging with people vs. reading the news. As much as I like knowing where the cool stuff on the internet is, I would much rather see J out doing this kind of work. I feel like RB is growing up.

    Yea Rocketboom. Job well done.

  • Jen says:

    I only wish it had been longer ....

  • filmex says:

    Hey B-Man~

    "islmofascist rhetoric" huh?

    What clever little names you Neo-Cons come up with. You have a branding name for every little bit of marketing you do, don't you.

    But then again, it was Bush's chief of staff Andrew Card who uttered the infamous quote when asked why the invasion was delayed, "From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August".

    Next you will be pointing us to Ahmed Chalabi's web page. I have no doubt you have a webpage to reinforce every twisted geo-political view you have.

    But, that's exactly how we ended up in the quagmire in Iraq, isn't it. People speaking of things they know nothing about, with absolute certainty.

    All of which has made our only success in the region the ability to create far more new terrorists on a daily basis then we will ever be able to kill or incarcerate.

    Get back to me when the number of innocent civilians who have died in Iraq as a result of King George II's elective war surpasses the 100,000 Sadaam managed to kill over a three decade period.

    Should happen before the end of the year. Then maybe we can talk about regime change in this country.

  • B-man 2.0 says:

    Hey Filmex there you go changing the subject. I was responding to your Hezbullah buddies and your contempt for Israel in the current war in Lebanon which was started by Hezbollah by the way. Remember??? Instead you respond with the war in Iraq.

    Yes Iraq was a croc. Hezbullah, Hamass, Al Quaida, and whatever other BS names these terrorists groups go by is the real threat and are lackeys of Iran & Syria who supply and support them with arms and money.

    You don't seem to give a damn that Hezbollah uses its own brethern as human shields. It uses UN observers as human shields, they have NO RESPECT for human life. They are animals.

    If you bothered to read the site I sent you you will have read a Lebanese speak out ( a raity as all who speak out are immediately threathen with DEATH) against this despicable terrorist group...all of which have but one goal. The destruction of Israel.

    Iran has twice claimed Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth. I can only surmise you agree with those statements.

  • nic says:

    Why is the format for the mobile edition of Rocketboom so small all of a sudden? A few month ago the mobile edition used to be about 5 Mb big, now it is only about 2 Mb...

  • filmex says:


    Our invasion of Iraq and the current Israeli incursion involve the same mindset, which ignores the fact that if you could eliminate terrorism via military action, Israel would have solved this problem 40 years ago.

    I saw your website. And I have also seen the thousands of Lebanese, even Christian Lebanese, who had rebuilt their country and brought their nascent democracy to fruition only to see it bombed back into the Stone Ages by Israel, who are flooding into refugee areas and cursing the Israelis for destroying their country.

    Hezbollah is an insurgency. Insurgent movements since the dawn of time have survived by melding into civilian populations and fighting a guerilla war.

    It's a lesson we certainly should have learned in Viet Nam, and perhaps the Israelis might have noted regarding France's experience in Algeria. But the problem with "our side" is that we don't seem to have a learning curve at our disposal.

    Just as Al-Qaeda desired, like all terrorists groups do, they know they can't win a traditional military conflict. They hope to incite their enemies into over-reacting creating such general hostility against the over-reaction, that both their public support and membership swells.

    THIS is what Israel has accomplished in Lebanon. I support Israel, just as I do the US, but any measures that are counter-productive are a fool's errand.

    If you have been watching any international television coverage, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Hezbollah, which had limited support in the Arab world before this, is skyrocketing in popularity.

    Hassan Nasrallah is being cheered wide and far as the first Arab leader not to be defeated by the Israeli military in six days or less. Every day this conflict goes on without a ceasefire raises his standing.

    CNN, BBC and ITN have noted that various Arab communities are setting aside past religious differences to praise him.

    Posters are popping up throughout the Middle East that liken him to Saladin, the Kurdish Muslim warrior who conquered Crusader-held Jerusalem in the 12th century.

    You can't create this kind of adulation for yourself. You need an enemy's stupidity to make a Nasrallah or Al-Zarqawi into a modern day Nasser.

    That's why I mentioned Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, all moderate countries that were critical of Hezzbollah initially, but now have all harshly criticized Israeli's murder of civilians, as the voices in their streets most certainly have forced them to do.

    I have no trouble with Israel moving a sizeable ground force into Lebanon to secure various territories. But, before now, Israel concluded that would involve substantial Israeli military casualties, which they weren't prepared to make.

    However, and the reason world opinion has turned against them, leaving virtually the US and Israel standing alone, is that they were willing simply to bomb the shit out of anything and write off civilian casualties as the cost of doing business.

    I'm for a secure and safe Israel. But, by killing 20 civilians for every loss of life you suffer; by creating one of the worst ecological disasters in the history of the region with the widespread destruction of fuel tanks; by purposefully bombing water treatment plants and other infrastructure necessary for civilian survival, they are on the way to turning half the planet's population into Mel Gibsons.

    On day one, the bombed the Beirut airport. Who does that hurt but the civilian population? Hezbollah has no Air Force! The world saw that as a despicable act to keep civilians from fleeing and from humanitarian aid from entering.

    I'm all for Israel, the formerly smart Israel, just not this Israel which seems to be taking dumb pills on loan from the Bush administration.

  • jriz says:

    while i really like amanda and joanne both, i notice they have unique styles of interviewing. one major difference in my view is that joanne appears less concerned with asserting her own knowledge of the topic at hand -- not saying she might not know a lot, but she keeps the interviewee talking by asking questions that don't involve her emotionally in the discussion. amanda was different in that she was usually more tuned into the emotional content of the interview, and would express subtle approval and disapproval, as well as encourage further information sharing by indicating to the interviewer that she had knowledge of the subject matter through her questions. in other words, joanne's questions seem relatively unbiased, whereas amanda leads with topical agenda (which results in negotiating the purpose of the interview as it unfolds).

    i believe both styles add their own unique value, but i also believe that based on where rb is positioned now in the podcast landscape, joanne is the perfect individual to capture the next round of viewers, the larger masses who want more objective display of their daily dose of quirky news.

    however, i think one reason why amanda had such great success, and one of many reasons why her following stays so loyal, is because of her ability to navigate through an interview with personal agenda and demonstrate willingness to assert that opinion on the interviewee. we, the viewers, latched onto that, whether we agreed with her viewpoint or not, and we were often provided an unexpected set of opinions, brought forth by that tension between amanda and interviewee.

    i'm fairly confident that as joanne understands this domain better, she'll be able to provide this when necessary, and her ability to remain objective will make her more complete than amanda was before separation from rb (not saying anything about amanda's growth ahead). and from the point of rb growth and development, amanda was perfect for gaining a more niche viewer following, in a similar manner to joanne seeming perfect for expanding into mainstream.

    i do think it's better to have both if's not necessary to have the highly opinionated version always in this stage of rb, and of course the field correspondents can fill in for the time being, but having your anchor perform the "startup mode" interviews for the niche viewers is in my opinion critical if the content is to stay on the edge -- the interview opportunities and results, while not necessarily better quantitatively, will lead down more interesting paths and yield more emotionally stimulating opinions (controversy, predictions, comparative analyses, etc.)

    just another opinion among the masses...thanks for reading andrew and crew.

    joanne, i hope you are not merely temporary, because i really look forward to watching you now.

  • Joanne does a very, very good job. And that's, because she feels the people she's talking to. Extremely likable!

  • Lance says:

    Okay, first thing first.'re fired. But before you go please define "neocon." The gist seems to be "any creep who speaks ill of the totalitarian wing of the Islamic political movement."
    And I always thought a neocon was a liberal with a 16-year-old daughter....
    Jriz...Good analysis. Judging from her suck-up interviews with George Soros and John Edwards a while back, I would rate Amanda as one more media sycophant too scared to ask liberals any challenging questions. By comparison, Joanne acts like a pro. Heck she might even be "listening" (and not just preening) to the interviewer!

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