Darrell Barton, freelance cameraman for CBS NEWS, sent us his dispatch from Kabul, Afghanistan.
"I am damn near sixty, still working, and have been for a long time."
The Digital Journalist: You could be home shooting re-enactments for America's Most Wanted. Why are you in the war zone?
DARRELL BARTON: Sounds hokey but this is the biggest story that has ever occurred on my watch so I wanted to do something. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the war was really over before I got here. (I asked to go a few days after 9-11) The bang bang is over but there are still stories of interest.
TDJ: Where are you and what have you been doing?
DB: We are in Kabul. We originally came over for a 60 Minutes II story in Jalalabad and then volunteered for the "draft" to do news in Kabul. Mostly we have done routine stuff but did get up to Bamion where the Taliban blew up the Buddha's a while back. Wild ride and good pictures. Don't know how it came out.
TDJ: The footage from Afghanistan is striking. Does the country lend itself to video, is everyone trying very hard to make their stuff look good and stand out?
DB: Beautiful, stark country, with amazing picture stories. Hard to shoot the people since everytime you get out of the car with the camera you are swarmed by people. I originally thought I could out wait them but was wrong. DJ: Are there a lot of "seasoned" crews over there? I thought war was a place where young men/women make their name. DB: Seasoning happens fast here. A mix of old and new hands.
TDJ: How was Christmas? How many New Years have you spent with your wife? How do you make up for missed holidays?
DB: Christmas was actually special for me. I went to the American Embassy and swapped egg nog and old stories with the Marines. I am an old Marine and it was a good time. No camera, no sound. I have spent too many Christmases away from home. I have also made too many promises to never do it again but things keep popping up. 34 years of marriage make apologies both meaningless and unnecessary.
TDJ: Does CBS still have the overseas rate? Are crews over there risking their lives for low pay?
DB: I don't even know what the rate is. [EDITOR'S NOTE: THE OVERSEAS RATE WAS A FLAT RATE FOR UNION CREWS UNDER THE OLD IBEW CONTRACTS]
TDJ: Are you shooting any mini dv or just beta over there?
DB: I have D V with me but haven't used it. ABC is shooting some and a few other people have it but mostly it is still the old cameras