Over a span of five days last week, the New York Times published reporter David Rohde's 19,000-word, first-person narrative of his kidnapping by the Taliban in Afghanistan and his subsequent escape. Each installment of the series, entitled Held by the Taliban, began on the front page of the day's paper and jumped to at least a full-page spread. We mentioned the articles, and linked to all of them, in last week's Highlights from this Sunday's Times post.
Without giving away much, I will say that I found his changes over time interesting to note. Given his experience, I wondered how I might have behaved, and I liked that he had chosen to give us readers this opportunity.
Perhaps more importantly, it is informative; his observations provide us with undeniable information to file in the departments of kidnapping, the Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan, foreign correspondence, etc.
Further, I was compelled by several passages. I found myself flagging several lines. The beginning, middle and end of his story clearly stood out to him, and, as a result, they are clear to us readers. We do not have to read overwritten sentences. He gave us a story and some thoughts on the side.
Altogether, I applaud the Times for publishing the story the way it did: in full, in the first person, with multimedia, on the front page.
I wonder what Rohde or the Times will do to promote this story more. Will Rohde expand it or incorporate it into a book? Maybe. Will the Times nominate it for a Pulitzer? Probably. Will the story be made into a movie? I wouldn't rule it out.