Thursday, April 26, 2007

Latest CNN Documentary Reveals Life Behind the Camera in Iraq

CNN Pressroom - CNN International’s Michael Holmes Offers Reporter’s Perspective in Month of Mayhem

Only 10 minutes after arriving at CNN’s Baghdad bureau on Jan. 9, 2007, CNN International anchor Michael Holmes began reporting as a full-scale battle raged nearby in an upscale Sunni neighborhood. Thus opens Holmes’ intensely personal, behind-the-scenes account of life in Iraq through the eyes of a journalist. His resulting hour-long documentary, CNN: Special Investigations Unit – Month of Mayhem, will premiere on Saturday, May 12, and Sunday, May 13, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. All times Eastern.

Throughout this assignment, Holmes and CNN photographers film what life is like for them working and living at CNN’s bureau outside of Baghdad’s Green Zone. This assignment marks Holmes’ eighth in Iraq since the onset of war there in 2003. In January 2004, Holmes survived an ambush on a two-vehicle convoy that left two CNN staffers dead and one wounded.

Putting human faces on the casualties of war, Holmes reports on the bombings in markets and at universities, the kidnapping and torture of Iraqi civilians, and attacks on military troops that occasionally come across as “routine” to viewers of nightly newscasts.

“One thing that annoys me about my own profession sometimes is that we sanitize things a little bit,” Holmes says in the documentary. “Necessarily, too. A lot of people don’t want to see these, or know these horrific things, but some things people need to know.

“It’s not pleasant to know, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t know,” he says later about the victims of torture and insurgent violence.

Holmes sensitively recounts the personal and professional difficulties of reporting on daily violence and despair, and how these challenges have intensified since the war began. He marvels at the bravery of the troops, describing how teenaged troops with a bit of downtime play video games indoors and how their demeanor rapidly matures when they must perform their official duties. Holmes also reveals the dignity and hospitality of Iraqi civilians trying to live and work under trying circumstances.

During the second day of Holmes’ current assignment, U.S. President George W. Bush announced a troop increase in Iraq. During what turned out to be one of the bloodiest months since war began in Iraq, more than 2,000 people were killed in hostile fighting or sectarian violence; of these causalities, 113 total coalition troops were killed, 108 of these were U.S. troops.

CNN: Special Investigations Unit – Month of Mayhem was produced by Sheri England and Jenni Watts. The vice president and senior executive producer of CNN Productions is Mark Nelson.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is one of the world’s most respected and trusted sources for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; four Web sites, including, the first major news and information Web site; CNN Pipeline,’s premium live video news service; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and partnerships for four television networks and two Web sites.

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