TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES: Journalists In Libya Continuously Restricted To Five-Star Hotel


Being a Western journalist in Libya sounds terrible.

Writing in the Guardian, Harriet Sherwood explains that television cameraman are filming routine late-night press conferences — which are scheduled  in their bathrobes. Libyan officials berate the press for a lack of “professionalism, objectivity, accuracy.” Some journalists are worried their food is spiked with sedatives.

“This is part of life as a foreign journalist under virtual house arrest at the five-star Rixos hotel in Tripoli, where maddening soft pop plays on an endless loop, portraits of the Brother Leader hang in the lobby, and armed men stand guard on the gate to prevent reporters slipping out. It is a world of rumour, paranoia, mistrust, manipulation, frustration and interrupted sleep. North Korea with palm trees was how one of our number described it.”

From the sound of Sherwood’s story, the collected journalists are getting increasingly frustrated both with Gaddafi’s supporters and with one another.

The mutual support between journalists came perilously close to collapse last week when the government minders said they would take a small number on a trip to Misrata, the city in the west of Libya that has seen sustained fighting for several weeks. An unseemly scramble to get a place on one of the two minibuses ensued. Reporters and TV teams pleaded to be included; some tried to force their way past the minders on the bus doors, others clambered through the vehicles’ windows. Yet, in a spirit of solidarity, those left behind thrust flak jackets through the windows for colleagues without body armour as the buses moved off.