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The Baghdad blogger

He's from LR.

by and

BLOG PAGE: Allbritton's from Iraq.
  • BLOG PAGE: Allbritton's from Iraq.
Some bloggers operate in their underwear from air-conditioned home offices, protected even from outraged phone calls by their Internet pseudonyms. The situation is a little more problematic for Christopher Allbritton, who blogs at A Little Rock native and 1993 UALR graduate, Allbritton got his start in journalism on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obit desk. He moved on to jobs with the Associated Press, the New York Daily News and, now, Time magazine. He’s been in the war zone since 2002, blogging steadily, though, as he told Mara Leveritt, he may stop soon.. He claims more than a million readers — daily readership of 25,000 at its peak. Here’s a post from Allbritton on April 19: BAGHDAD—Even now, I have a hard time believing that she’s gone. Marla Ruzicka died Saturday, April 16 when a suicide car bomber blew up his car next to hers in an apparent attack on a nearby civilian convoy on Airport Road in Baghdad. She was 28. Marla was a friend of mine here in Baghdad. She was a matchmaker, a social hub and the heart of our journo-tribe, both here and in Afghanistan, although she wasn’t a journalist. She was known and loved — sometimes through gritted teeth, admittedly — by the majority of Baghdad, it seems. Everyone knew Marla. That’s because Marla made it her business to be known. She was tireless and ubiquitous in her work, which was to get compensation for Iraqi victims of war from the U.S. military. She confronted, cajoled, flirted with and — more often than not — convinced generals, diplomats and politicians that Iraqi civilians were worthy of remembrance and that the U.S. had a responsibility to the families of those killed or injured by American munitions. It was hard work. Every day, she was out, with her driver/translator and country coordinator Faiz Ali Salim, meeting families and diplomats, generals and journalists, working everyone to help these families. She had a hurricane energy to her and a radiant goodness that could knock you down and leave your head spinning. I often imagined the first contact she had with Iraqi families who needed help, and how bewildered they must have been by this pretty, loud and enormously kind American woman who swooped into their lives in a black abaya and face-splitting grin. Bewildered at first, yes, but quickly grateful, and as much in love and in awe of her as any of us who knew her for more than a short time. While she leaves behind a group of friends among the westerners here in Baghdad, she leaves behind a huge extended family of Iraqis who took her in. I saw it myself last summer when I was thinking of pitching a feature on her to New York magazine. I went with her to the home of a family who had lost a daughter in a U.S. bombing. The men hovered around for her protection and gazed at her adoringly. The women of the family swept her up in warm embraces, almost causing her to disappear in the flurry of abayas. The children sat at her feet or played with her blonde hair. Then, the old matriarch told her about how the paperwork was going and asked her about a lawyer in Jordan who was trying to convince the family to take him on as their attorney. I don’t know what happened with their case because the story never panned out. She was leaving Baghdad and I got busy with other things. Now I wish I’d pushed harder so that more people might have known about her when she was doing her work instead of the current rush of newspaper epitaphs. …

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