WSW: Covering Oil, Politics and More in Iraq

Feb 19, 2014

Ben Lando outside the Baghdad Zoo
Credit Courtesy of Ben Lando

Ben Lando's career in journalism has taken him from Kalamazoo to Baghdad. 

The Western Michigan University graduate has worked for a number or local and national outlets (including WMUK). He covered energy for UPI in Washington D.C beginning in 2006. That had taken him to several foreign countries. But he found himself focusing on Iraq. When Lando was laid off from UPI in 2009, he still wanted to cover the oil sector in Iraq. 

So the Iraq Oil Report was launched. The online news service focuses on energy, politics, and business. But Lando, who is the report's Editor in Chief, says ultimately oil is at the core of what happens in Iraq. He says it's a complex story, more than the pundits can quickly explain on cable television news. Lando says Iraq fell off the radar screen of the media in part because of problems in places like Syria and Iran. But he says increased violence is putting Iraq back in the news for all the wrong reasons. 

Ben Lando on the steps to the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul
Credit Courtesy of Ben Lando

Lando says covering the news in Iraq while ensuring that the staff is safe is the greatest challenge. He says when violence increases, he and the staff limit their time in public. Lando says that makes it more difficult to cover stories. 

The Iraq Oil Report is a paid subscription site. Lando says there is no one-size fits all as a business model for journalism. He says Iraq Oil Report was able to cover stories that others weren't reporting on. And many people were interested and willing to pay coverage. 

The website also accepts advertising and does custom research for interested parties. Lando says there are businesses interested in very detailed research that the Iraq Oil Report is capable of delivering. He says it's often material learned while reporting on other stories. 

Lando says he plans to continue the Iraq Oil Report. He doesn't spend as much time in Iraq now that he is the father of a 10 month old son.  Lando jokes "once he can read and write I'll take him with me, yeah right." 

Other links

Ben Lando was recently interviewed by NRP about the Kurds efforts to build a pipeline that bypasses the central government. The interview aired Wednesday

Western Michigan University Magazine profiled Lando in 2012.