“He has literally saved lives,” a former Baghdad colleague of Salar Jaff’s told me, after he heard that Jaffe, the longtime LA Times Baghdad Bureau Manager, was among those on the hit list for the latest round of the paper’s layoffs. “Ask anybody who’s worked with him, Salar is really beloved.”
Most specifically, Jaff, who is Iraqi, was the Times’ journalist who was integral to keeping other reporters safe during the worst days, months and years in Baghdad. He talked people out of dangerous situations, smoothed the way for them when things got dicey, told them where they could go, and where it was too perilous, headed off potential trouble. This often meant that, as an Iraqi citizen, he was the one at the bureau who took the greatest risks of all to make sure that the reporters in his charge could function in what was, for a long period, one of the deadliest of places on earth for journalists.
Yet Jaff was much more than a skilled fixer. “I think most reporters would acknowledge Salar was an important, often uncredited analyst who guided them through their knowledge deficits as they told the story of a place they did not understand,” explained the former Baghdad reporter.
We as readers benefited greatly as a consequence”
Jaff reportedly had no advance inkling that the ax was falling his direction. “The bureau was like a child I helped raise,” he told friends after he received news of his layoff.
So after all these years of risk and loyalty what did the Times cost-cutters do? They reportedly fired Jaff on the first day of Ramadan.
Stay classy, LA Times. Stay classy.
Here is Jaff’s last story for the paper.
Salar Jaff is now awaiting a visa in the hope of immigrating to the US.
UPDATE: JAFF’S FAREWELL NOTE TO THOSE HE WORKED WITH IS BELOW:
Dear colleagues and friends,
It is with mixed emotions that I send this email. As some of you know, those are my last days at the Baghdad Bureau; I want to say that I truly enjoy working with all of you here at Los Angeles Times – Baghdad Bureau, and learned a lot from a lot of you. In the near future , don’t know exactly when, but eventually will happen, we might meet in the States, that I applied to the IOM resettlement program,trying to start a new life there, and to give a better future for my two daughters, Medya and Meena, and to be away from inflaming Baghdad.
During the last 10 years I spend at the paper, I tried my hard to make ends meet and prepare a good office foundation to make easy for folks to achieve their journalistic tasks properly. And thanks god, I was able to do so that Baghdad Bureau got a lot of appreciation and respect, among other media organization in Baghdad, and great stories were written from here.I am very proud of the role i did in Baghdad Bureau.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all of my friends and colleagues, who I worked with during hard times in Baghdad. I have learned a great deal from you and will miss you all. It has been a great pleasure working with you all, hoping to meet you in the near future.