Looking For a Killing: On the Ethics of Longform Reportage

Afghan soliders on patrol.
Afghan soliders on patrol. Photo by Theodore Schmidt.

Now, imagine you’re on a mission with a platoon of Afghan soldiers in a valley that you know to be under the control of insurgents, and imagine your task is to show that fact. On the one hand, you don’t want the soldiers to be ambushed—what kind of person would want that?—but on the other, the only reason you came to that valley in the first place was the high likelihood that they’d be ambushed and your desire to be with them when they were. Which is to say, I think, that you do want them to be ambushed.

Writing in LitHub, journalist Luke Mogelson explores the darker side of what it means to do longform, on-the-ground reporting.

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