My Sordid Love Affair with Journalism

7 Feb

My Sordid Love Affair with Journalism

Excerpts from Sympathy for the Devil: A Foreign Correspondent Inside Pol Pot’s Cambodia

Copyright Nate Thayer. No republication in whole or part without prior written permission of the author

By Nate Thayer

Journalism and I have a love affair that will never be extinguished.

From the beginning, I was the perfect specimen to be a journalist. It has consumed me, for every minute of every day.

I have always been eager to go anywhere where something of import or fascination is occurring and fraternize with the interesting people who were the protagonists, at any time.

At the beginning, I was willing to die. I had little concern for making money.

The absence of love of money and fear of death are often the crucial makings of a good foreign correspondent.

A dirty little secret is most successful foreign correspondents have either no or dysfunctional families, no other obligations, and few other talents outside of journalism. And few who rely on them, save for their editors. They travel constantly and without advance warning. Properly organized marriages and family are disproportionately rare.

We are not, as a control group, upstanding members of the healthier end of properly organized societies.

Like Communism and God, one has to make a choice between the two.

I was the perfect “revolutionary receptacle”—as the Khmer Rouge called the indigenous mountain people of Cambodia—to be a young war correspondent. They were referring to the absence of a need for re-education and that their tribal cadre already possessed an “empty mind”, as the Zen Buddhists would say, an enthusiasm and unyielding commitment of revolutionary spirit to their assigned task. Some would, credibly, argue that I am capable of being just plain stupid, or insane.

I had exactly no training or experience to guide me on the normal procedures of covering a news story when I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok at age 29, intent on plunging head first into a new life as a foreign correspondent. And I had no inclination to limit my zeal to pursue any story, often which involved accessing the forbidden, often dangerous areas that held the information that often make for the best stories. In fact, I was entirely ignorant of the realities of the dangers that were present most everywhere I went.

That attitude put me in an excellent position to carry out and excel at my new profession.

In the 1980’s, I was a young man unsatisfied with the mundane routine of life as a low-level bureaucrat for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I was bored, aimless, confused, and restless, unclear of which direction in life would bring me meaning and happiness. I was hungry for adventure and fulfillment, and my future still afforded the endless choices which are the luxurious freedoms mostly reserved for youth unencumbered with obligations.

I had always loved newspapers and current events and learning about and from people from every walk of life. I am, by nature, curious and inquisitive and love to live vicariously through the achievements and shenanigans of others. During my 20’s, I was routinely accused of being a cop in the bars I frequented because I asked so many questions that were, honestly, none of my business. That is unless one is a journalist. So I decided to become one.

I decided, at age 28, I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. And I decided I would begin by going and covering the war in Cambodia.

So when I was fired from my job as a Massachusetts State government worker and lost its only reward of a guaranteed paycheck, I abruptly ended an ill-advised romance which I had already pledged would result in marriage—perhaps the goofiest idea I have ever concocted—and began a whole new life from scratch.

Knowing it might take months to secure a job and make a living that covered expenses, I took out a $15,000 bank loan (which I had to have, embarrassingly, cosigned by my mother), to finance my attempt at a new career.

Not a single person on the planet do I recall was in favor of my idea.

I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok and set up shop in the Thai town of Aranyaprathet, on the Cambodian border, which was the center of the action for the clandestine war in Cambodia. I was the only foreign journalist who lived there at that time. I was flush with enthusiasm and impatient with desire for the romance of life as a foreign war correspondent.

In fact, my strategy was fraught with the danger of complete failure. I had no idea what I was doing. I had absolutely no journalism experience or training. I had no demonstrable skills as a photographer and my writings had never been published.

Trouble began shortly after my arrival in Thailand. I went to withdraw money from my bank account, recently topped off with the new bank loan, and found the bank account empty. I had forgotten to take the ex-fiancé’s name off the joint bank account. She had, upon my departure from Boston, which was not entirely mutually agreeable, emptied the bank account of its funds and fled to Mexico with her new boyfriend, presumably to frolic on the beaches (and I am guessing here) snorting up my cash reserves in the nightclubs.

So, soon after my arrival in Thailand, I not only had no job and no experience in journalism or prospects for employment, knew no one in the country, and was living alone in an obscure town on the Thai-Cambodian border, but now I had no money or savings and a $300 a month bank loan to repay.

I was off to a shaky start.

I lived in a $3 a night room in a simple but charming guest house. And I began going into war zones. So began my life as a journalist.

Soon, I started selling photographs and stories to an amused if not alarmed Bangkok press corps who became aware of this affable if not possibly insane American who was now offering dispatches from the Cambodian war. I travelled to where I wanted to, to observe whatever interested me. I had no bosses in the same town, and I was being paid to learn new things, ask interesting strangers questions, and live a life filled with adventure and freedom. It was the stuff of a young man’s dreams.

I was immediately and madly and helplessly and irrevocably in love with journalism. I had found my niche in life and I have never looked back.

My first month’s involved mainly fruitless efforts to interest Bangkok based foreign media outlets in my stories and pictures. I bought a motorcycle and, armed with clueless bravado, a camera, and a notebook, travelled up and down the dirt roads that snaked along the Thai-Cambodian border to document the daily battles, the displacement of civilian refugees, and other regular events of genuine intrigue and raw action which are the routine of guerrilla wars everywhere.

While unprepared and inexperienced, I was intent on making a success of being a journalist. For months, I was mainly broke and faced repeated rejection of my dispatches. I submitted them, along with often out of focus and gruesome pictures, to the foreign correspondents based in Bangkok. Most of them reacted with polite disinterest. My pictures were of dubious quality and my written reports were barely salvageable, requiring much editing and fact checking to achieve a quality sufficient for international publication. But I learned to improve. Within a few months, the sporadic sale of my work increased and I began to, almost, pay for my food, beer, and hotel room.

Four months after I arrived in Thailand, the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine came to Bangkok to retrieve the body of his last Southeast Asian correspondent, who had been killed by a mortar in guerrilla controlled Burma. He, therefore, was in the market for a replacement. He heard of a young freelancer covering the Cambodian war, sought me out, and hired me. After meeting in a depressing strip club frequented by retired Vietnam veterans who never went home to America, Colonel Robert K. Brown handed me a wad of advance cash for expenses and promised me a $400 a month paycheck, on top of picture and word rates for whatever stories were published.

I had my first job as a journalist—replacing a dead guy.

Knowing little of military issues, my first assignment for Soldier of Fortune dispatched me to return to the guerrilla controlled territory where my predecessor was killed and produce a story on the circumstances of his demise.

Many ethnic wars had been raging for decades along the Thai-Burmese border. I joined guerrillas of the Karen ethnic minority army who sought a separate homeland from Burmese control. The guerrilla base was under siege and engaged in non-stop combat. The incoming artillery and mortars were very, very loud and no relaxing at all. The frontlines between the Burmese army and the guerrillas were so extraordinarily close one had to whisper to not be heard by the enemy, moving only by crouching and frog stepping through networks of bunkers and trenches to avoid being shot. To me, it was a scene straight out of the movies.

Fighting with the guerrillas were foreign mercenaries, including a Japanese sniper who was on leave from the French Foreign Legion, who enjoyed taking his vacations to obscure war zones so he could kill people. That was his idea of a good time. He would spend hours poised at the frontlines aiming at an enemy bunker waiting for a Burmese soldier to exit and expose himself and then he would shoot him. He would then return after a kill, smiling, and carve a new notch in the wooden grip of his sniper rifle. Mori still sends me Christmas cards. I spent the first night in an underground concrete bunker thick enough to withstand the barrage of non-stop direct hits from Burmese 122 mm, 130mm and 155 mm artillery shells. Sharing the bunker with me and the Japanese fellow on vacation from the French Foreign Legion, were two Canadian mercenaries who also dabbled in journalism. They would take turns firing their weapons at and yelling insults to the Burmese and snapping pictures of them.

The guerrillas had a new gun which they had secretly moved to the front lines to target an unsuspecting enemy bunker 50 meters across the minefield. I decided I would photograph the first salvo, hoping, in my deluded Hollywood ignorance, to get images of the rocket exiting the artillery gun with the targeted bunker in the background. It was pretty much an absurd commentary of my cluelessness. I positioned myself close behind the recoilless rifle and was promptly blown by the force of the blast backwards and off my feet, my camera damaged, resulting in my eardrums being blown out and me suffering permanent hearing loss, which has left me, to this day, still unable to hold normal conversations.

The guerrillas were greatly entertained by this incident. I was completely deaf for weeks. While leaving the guerrilla zones, our boat, which was crossing the river that marked the border with Thailand, was ambushed by the Burmese who shot up our wooden canoe, the only means of access to or from Thailand.

All in all, despite the unpleasantness, it was an adventure filled entrée to several stories, including a profile of the Japanese mercenary that, in the end, merited a few pages in Soldier of Fortune.

While such battlefield action is the routine of guerrilla wars everywhere, the foray to Burma provided exactly the excitement and adventure and intrigue I was seeking to be part of in those early years marked by reckless risks.

Within six months of my arrival in Thailand, the Bangkok Bureau of the Associated Press hired me. The AP was the largest news agency in the world, sending dispatches to its 10,000 media outlet clients, and I was made their man covering the Cambodian war. I was paid a princely sum of $400 a month. Each picture they accepted paid an additional $25. And I was allowed to still freelance for others, save for direct competition of other wire services. I was ecstatic. Now I was an officially, accredited foreign war correspondent.

I was assigned to cover the war based on the Cambodian border, and began to accompany forays of guerrillas on missions to attack their enemy. Within a few months, in October 1989, I was seriously wounded when a captured Russian military transport truck I as riding in, booty from that days victorious seizure of a strategic government town, was destroyed when it ran over two Chinese anti-tank mines. The two soldiers I shared the front cab of the Zil truck were both killed, as were a number of others riding in the rear. The driver, who I was sitting snug next to, had his leg severed by the explosion. I woke up inside the remnants of the engine compartment with his leg lying over my face. I was unsure at first if the leg was mine. I crawled from the shards of metal that were the remains of the shattered truck and collapsed on the muddy jungle floor, completely unable to process what had just happened. It was nighttime and it was raining. I was punctured from shrapnel from feet to head. The bones of my left foot had perforated the skin and were protruding from the meat and skin, which was already ripped open by metal fragments. I did not realize I had that injury until I walked through a puddle of muddy water and pain shot up my body. My eardrums were shattered and bleeding from the extraordinary concussion of the bomb packed with enough explosives to destroy a tank which had gone off less than 1 and ½ meters from where z I sat. After walking through the jungle night in the rain 7 miles to a guerrilla base, those of us who survived were taken to a guerrilla field hospital provided by the CIA. There I was stitched up and pieces of metal removed from various parts of my body. But I survived, and such events are over before you realize they have happened.

Despite the near death experience, I knew I also had a great story and pictures and insisted on being driven the 60 miles back to Aranyaprathet in the dead of night in order to file my dispatches.

It was another event in the beginning months of my career as a journalist that some might suggest was an inauspicious start, but it did not make me reconsider my career choices.

In fact, I loved my new life as a journalist. I would follow reports of potential news significance and drive my motorcycle to the scene, spend the day waiting for an interview or some drama or firefight to erupt. I often crossed the Thai border to accompany the guerrillas into a battle. I covered anything involving developments in the guerrilla war and the huge humanitarian effort to address the crisis of hundreds of thousands of refugees that now populated UN administered camps that dotted the 800 kilometer long border between Cambodia and Thailand. But mostly I followed the growing war, armed and financed by a coordinated international effort which kept Cambodia alive as an issue of global interest.

Soon, I was accepted by my colleagues as a legitimate member of the fraternity of foreign correspondents and my career evolved, eventually covering stories of all kinds in countries around the word. I was paid to travel the world, meet interesting people, and watch events of significance unfold as they happened.

It is the perfect life.

I love being a journalist and the experiences it affords me. I love that I have the simple ability of bringing information of consequence and interest and import to free people, and allowing the public scrutiny of that information by average citizens. I love to expose those who abuse power and privilege; who use the power of money, guns, and political power to abuse the public trust.

There is no man, regardless of his possession of lopsided means and influence, who is not petrified that his reputation can be sullied through the simple public exposure of his improper deeds.

It may be that it is only ones reputation and character that cannot be stifled or immune or protected by the use of power and intimidation and abuse of influence with the presence of a vigorous free press. All men are absorbed by how they are perceived by others, and therein lay the power of a free press and its vital role to free people and as a cornerstone of free societies.

That is the essence of the magnificence and power of the role of a free, fearless, unbiased, and courageous press and its key function in free societies. Through the dissemination of factual information relevant to the common good for public consumption, the powerful are afraid to abuse the vulnerable and the weak and the powerless. In theory, a free press gives an equal voice to everyone.

During the last couple of decades, while working as a journalist covering Cambodia, my pursuit of the Khmer Rouge was only one aspect of my work. I covered the war waged from Thai border sanctuaries and supported by a coalition of super and regional powers in the 1980’s. I covered Cambodia’s emerging society from Phnom Penh after the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, in all its aspects. This included the arrival of the 22,000 strong United Nations contingents charged with administering the country, organizing and conducting free elections, the massive influx of foreign private humanitarian relief agencies, and the political parties which emerged from the one-party state to seek power and influence in a new Cambodia. A country emerging from decades of warfare, foreign occupation and communist dictatorship, the transition in Cambodia was one of profound change.

I was born to be a journalist.

I believe deeply in its essential importance to create, ensure, preserve, and improve a free society.

Good journalism, I am convinced, is not something one can be trained for. Good journalism is peculiar to the innate, peculiar personalities of good journalists. It thrives—perhaps requires—certain personality traits that are often the stuff of failure in other professions. It allows for, even encourages, people who are loath, often incapable of, functioning within the constraints of many other, routine, working environments.

Good journalists are often concomitantly equipped with social skills—or an absence of them—that make for strained or unpleasant companionship—cynical, aggressive, nosy, unkempt, insufferably opinionated, and always intruding in the affairs of others which are, arguably, none of their business. They are benefited from being naturally curious and inquisitive and persistent, and often clueless of, or entirely oblivious to, the general consensus that they are boorish, rude, intrusive, and unwelcome in polite society.

Many of the best journalists are unable to maintain the routine of legitimate monotony of a workforce that is necessary to keep the machinery of society functioning efficiently, and make for difficult and obstreperous coworkers.

Often loners with a unique set of—or lack of—social skills appropriate for public norms and prone to gravitate to and find comfort and a sense of place at the edges of acceptable society, good journalists are able to fraternize with ease with the marginal, the villains, the outcasts, the dignitaries, the royalty, and commoners equally. It is precisely these character flaws or merits, depending on one’s perspective, that make for the best reporters.

It is not unrelated that journalists are remarkably disproportionately single or divorced and heavy drinkers. Certainly I—and I submit many of my more talented colleagues—would be a total failure at most traditional life endeavors.

I am a simple reporter and have never, for a moment, desired or endeavored to move up the chain of influence in a news organization to be an editor or in management. My job is to collect facts, access the scene and the principles of the issue being reported, interview people of consequence on the issue at hand, and assemble the rough information into a coherent rendering of the salient issues of the story. I piece the information together, confirm or discredit its accuracy, compose and arrange the facts and story, and then dispatch my findings to the news organization for editing, feedback, harsh scrutiny, and often for instructions of follow-up to strengthen aspects of the story, or cut out that deemed redundant, unconfirmed, or irrelevant. Often cuts and alterations are based solely on space designated for a story, a constant struggle between good editors and good reporters trying to fit a story into a predetermined number of words or columns designated for the article and that won’t lose the attention of the maximum readership.

I have covered every story without fear or favor of consequence, fearing only getting my facts wrong—the thought of which mortifies me.

In Cambodia, I learned exactly the power of a free press in promoting a healthy society. And I became unabashedly convinced of its noble role to a free or struggling people.

The harsh glare of public scrutiny on truth is a powerful weapon against those who would abuse authority, power, and influence. These people almost always regard their power and influence as affording them a special exemption from conducting themselves with transparency and rendering themselves untouchable. In Cambodia, they were livid and confused and unprepared for the newly arrived institution of a free press that was capable of damaging their reputation and changing public policy. The protection that a free press offers is from the abuse of influence by the simple public perception of the conduct, integrity, and character of those who wield power with guns and money and through public office charged with ensuring the common good is in safe hands.

Once the reputation of these with power is credibly exposed, it is the one thing that can never be retrieved. It is through the fear of preserving ones reputation and the public perception of their integrity wherein the power of a free press lies.

Our only tools are words.

I despise impunity from public access to knowledge as the visceral enemy of meritocracy, civil society, and, especially, rule of law. Impunity is the victory of the rule of man over the rule of law. This struggle played out daily in Cambodia, where there was a constant brawl between dictatorship and democracy, between personal gain through corruption and that of government in service of the common good.

Cambodia’s nascent democratic experiment cried out for a vigorous press, and served greatly in promoting a stronger, healthier society.

I focused my reporting on those with the power of guns, money, and political power. I revel in targeting those who wield and abuse this power to betray the public trust. This betrayal takes many forms that deserve exposure. I have a visceral disgust of official abuse of authority and power, a quality that is in the blood of all good journalists. It is better for me than sex.

This focus has been the basis of uncountable articles I have published on Cambodia and elsewhere. I revel in the exposure of corrupt public officials and those who have influence over them; of leaders who abuse their public positions for personal gain; of those who promote political agendas they initiate in order to benefit the corrupt and victimize those who rely on policies that serve the national interest.

I always try to be precise on details, naming public officials who accept money and gifts and perks in exchange for supporting and promoting policies that are contrary to the greater common good. I have targeted those, by name, who have engaged in human rights abuses of all kinds, many of whom controlled businesses that involve murder, torture, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion, seeking out the corrupt, the killers, and the abusers and give voice to their victims and reveal every provable detail that transpires. This often prompts government embarrassment; contradicts key government public excuses which try and deny involvement of powerful figures; prompts diplomatic condemnation; and forces official inquiries on crimes that are forced into the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

Legions of corrupt politicians, military officials, and unscrupulous businessmen have feared these reports.

In 1991, and in the subsequent immediate years after, Cambodia had never seen such a role played by the press. The population was enthralled and, after the arrival of the United Nations in 1991, dozens of new newspapers appeared overnight, most of which were funded by individuals in politics or business who had a specific political or financial agenda and published outrageous slander, using the forum to attack their enemies and promote themselves. But also among the new press, were publications of idealist and independent young Cambodians who were committed to holding their leaders accountable. The poor could often not afford to purchase a copy of a newspaper and would rent a copy for a few minutes to read at local kiosks and return them when done. It was the emerging free press who were relied on to impart issues of community and national interest to the previously powerless and sustain an informed public.

I always wrote and write my stories with one loyalty—to the reader. Not advertisers, sources, or the business interests of the media outlet I am writing for. In Cambodia, readers were astounded at the content of the publications of the newly arrived free press—in my case primarily the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Phnom Penh Post—unimpeded by intimidation and not limiting or omitting facts from fear of the consequences, never exercising self-censorship in the face of threats, nor benefiting from the favors of the influential, all of which would tarnish he credibility of what is published.

During my years reporting on Cambodia, local journalists were targeted routinely by those with power. The government threatened—and did—shut down papers, jail journalists, and expel foreign media from their country. They also killed them.

I received numerous government warnings and death threats. I was formally ordered expelled from Cambodia on three occasions. My sources were sought out and intimidated. I had three confirmed assassination attempts against me. I was sued by Cambodia’s most powerful businessman, who was a drug trafficker who paid millions of dollars to corrupt government and military officials–including both Prime Minister Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh–paid the salaries of the entire Cambodian army one year, financed two attempted and one successful coup d’états, held a diplomatic passport, was president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, and maintained his own private army and helicopter and aircraft fleet.

In exchange for his payoffs to government officials, he was allowed to conduct his organized crime activities with impunity. I wrote a cover story for the Far Eastern Economic Review which exposed his conduct and influence and he filed suit against me and the Review in Hong Kong court. It was thrown out eventually because the story was, down to every published detailed word, true. But the man’s– Theng Bun Ma–ability to operate was seriously hampered by the exposure of his deeds.

While living in Cambodia, my phone lines were monitored and government security agents would go to the phone company and, at gunpoint, retrieve all records of incoming and outgoing calls from my phone trying to piece together who the sources were for my articles.

This happened to be directly contrary to the new Cambodian constitution, so I wrote a story detailing the government attempts at undermining a free press, quoted the phone company executives and the minister in charge of the secret police, and embarrassed officials were apoplectic but unable to do anything but sputter objections.

Paid government agents were placed on the staff of the Phnom Penh Post and required to report on the details of what stories we were working on and who were our sources.

Prime Minister Hun Sen sent gangs of government paid thugs to ransack Cambodian newspaper offices, where they threw bombs threw windows and burned the buildings to the ground.

If such tactics did not work, they then would kill you. And they did not hesitate to do so. Eliminating independent voices of scrutiny was the strategy. Whatever tactics were necessary to achieve that were employed. More than a dozen Cambodian journalists were murdered in cold blood during my years reporting from the country. These were routine practices used against those whose only function was to provide unfettered access to the public of information of importance to the common good.

I, as well, received death threats and always carried a pistol with me and varied my travel routines.

The mandate to bring credible, balanced, and correct information for public consumption and consideration was never threatened with being extinguished.

Societies like Cambodia must have neutral, independent observers to impart unbiased information and analysis to the public—and other than journalists and humanitarian aid workers, few others were willing to set up shop in the anarchy and depressing conditions that is Cambodia. Most have, reasonably, little desire to inhabit such countries, marginal third world backwaters of insignificant international consequence. The dismal and frustrating living conditions did not encourage many to base themselves there. The daily bouts with poor sanitary conditions are debilitating. Stomach ailments are the norm. The water is polluted by the intermingling of the sewage and drinking water city pipes.

There is often no hot water to bathe and water pressure is a trickle. Commodities taken for granted elsewhere are unavailable in the markets, and were lusted after as more than a minor luxury.

The commonplace total absence of electricity or power outages or surges, throughout the 1990’s, were a daily norm which made working conditions harsh. While the blackouts were immensely frustrating, the power surges would fry equipment, routinely destroying what was on one’s computer. The absence of functioning communication equipment, such as phones, made keeping in touch with sources or ones homes office or transmitting stories anon stop nightmare.

When I arrived in Phnom Penh in 1991, there were only 8 international phone lines—all routed through Moscow. Soon, mobile phone companies poured into the country to set up shop, but they only operated in Phnom Penh and some select other cities and the phone lines were more often than not overloaded and calls could not connect.

The routine extortion of thugs with guns at checkpoints set up throughout Phnom Penh was rampant.

There were constant demands of bribery by civil servants of every stripe, from the telephone repairman to the fireman who would refuse to turn on the water hoses until the occupants of the burning buildings paid in advance. Doctors would demand cash bribes to treat the sick when brought to hospital. The fee for doctors to remove a bullet was $100 dollars at the government run Callmette hospital, and families of the stricken would have to purchase medicine and equipment such as oxygen in the market before hospital staff would treat their loved ones. I saw many die as a direct result. Crime was rampant with killings and robbery routine. In sum, working and living conditions were a constant source of great frustration.

But it is also true that journalists are often tempted, sometimes eager, to traffic in misery. In Cambodia, the temptation to condemn the entire country can be overwhelming in the face of the monotonous carcinogens of suffering, corruption, ineptitude, cruelty and bald abuse of power. We often focus on this venality and misery.

The honest truth is that stable properly organized societies and, in Cambodia, this whole flirting with peace and the absence of civil war business, is perceived as a direct career threat to many foreign correspondents. I certainly viewed it as such. After all, without the anarchy, why the fuck would I want to live in Cambodia?

The rogue personal lives and conduct left plenty of wiggle room for the argument that we are, as a group, unfit to judge others. The truth is , we often are drunken cynics, frequent the entire spectrum of establishments of ill repute, flagrantly and disproportionately partake in illicit recreational drug use, and, for not a few of my colleagues, routinely just make some stuff up because it makes for a better story. In other words, pretty much dive in head first and frolic in the deep end of the waters that are the pool where we find many of our stories where we stand in judgment of those public figures who behave similarly.

And then there are those who are just plain lazy—de facto stenographers who accept official versions of events without scrutiny. And, particularly among poorly paid local journalists, the dishonest who sell their integrity and the protections afforded the institution of a free press to the highest bidder. Gifts, cash money payments, or political quid pro quo’s are routine and rampant.

These acts of hypocrisy and debauchery by us journalists, if exposed for what it is—the exact personal conduct we focus on with the subjects and personalities we report on—would be ripe (and easily confirmable by eyewitness account) material fodder for publication by these same guilty as sin correspondents. We journalists often comprise less than impressive, healthy members of the societies of which we are charged with interpreting, standing in judgment of, and reporting on……….

Excerpt from Sympathy for the Devil: A Journalist Inside Pol Pot’s Cambodia

All rights reserved. Copyright Nate Thayer. No republication in whole or part without prior written permission from the author

One Response to “My Sordid Love Affair with Journalism”

  1. Olivia Guerbet February 8, 2014 at 3:11 am #


    How precious and essential.Thank you Nate


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