Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reuters Snarks On Itself

In an article on sport fishing in Iraq, a Reuters reporter has fun at the news organization's own expense:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - It's early on a Sunday morning and the fish aren't biting, but Warrant Officer Stormy ("like the weather") Ripley is enjoying a moment of calm as she casts her line into a lake encircling Saddam Hussein's former palace.

Welcome to the weekly gathering of the Baghdad Angler's Club and School of Flyfishing.

This week's lesson is being taught by Warrant Officer Leslie "Scott" Henry, a 19-year veteran helicopter pilot who investigates air crashes as Aviation Safety Officer when he isn't wrangling feisty asp with his Kastmaster lure.

For some of the U.S. troops stationed at the giant complex of bases built around Saddam's lush marble palaces on the western edge of Baghdad, Sunday morning fishing has become a weekly ritual, a way to unwind and think about home.

The club has a Web site -- -- filled with photos of troopers and their fish. In nearly all of them the soldiers are grinning ear to ear.

Fishing stories, like war stories, are more convincing when backed up by proof.

"You need that photo, or if you say you caught a 24-inch asp no one's going to believe you," says Henry.

There are two kinds of fish to catch: carp, which feed on the bottom and are best caught by dangling bait, and asp, a predator best caught by casting a lure near the surface.

But pretty soon the group is casting sleek mirrored lures in an effort to snag an asp. It takes skill to reel in the mirrors so that big fish mistake them for tasty smaller fish.

The Reuters correspondent catches one that thrashes frantically on the hook, but it leaps back into the lake before a photo can be taken. So you'll just have to take Reuters word for it: it was as big as the reporter's arm.

You mean you didn't have a Reuters photographer there to Photoshop a monster fish into the photo? Shame on you.

Good story, though. Well done.

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