Wednesday, October 20

Journalist saved by Google search

Journalist saved by Google search (Silicon.com, Oct. 20):
The Australian journalist kidnapped by Iraqi militants, John Martinkus, never thought that the search engine Google would one day save his life. Martinkus was freed by his captors on Sunday after they Googled his name on the internet to check if he was telling the truth about his affiliation with public broadcaster SBS. SBS executive producer Mike Carey said Martinkus' captors investigated his background on the internet to make sure he was not a contractor for the US or a CIA agent. "They had thought he was working for the Americans as an informer. In this case, modern technology probably saved the journalist's life," Carey said. Martinkus is a freelancer who has covered conflicts from East Timor to Iraq. He was grabbed at gunpoint outside the al-Hamra Hotel just across the road from the Australian embassy in Baghdad. Martinkus was working on a news feature for SBS's Dateline program on rebel Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army when he was nabbed. The internet has become a popular tool for Iraqi militant groups to broadcast their cause to the world.

That last is quite true, by the way: Iraq4Ever, for example, is an Arabic-language blog, hosted on a Blogspot.com in Northern California, that publishes communiques from various factions of the Iraqi resistance.

Moral of the story: Freelancers, work on your Google rank. It might come in handy someday. Also, if the Iraqi insurgents assume that they can confirm or disprove the proposition that you're CIA by Googling you, they're not too smart.

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