Panel 4 is up and titled "The New Cadre of War Reporters". Hosted by Greyhawk and includes JP Borda of Milblogging.com, Christian Lowe of Defense Tech, and Toby Nunn of Toby Nunn's Briefing Room and Bad Voodoo's War fame.
JP's showing us a clip from the bit done by Deb Scranton on "Bad Voodoo's War".
JP says it was a lot more fun to do BVW because he isn't able to put those types of experiences into words. Greyhawk comments that, in watching BVW, he recognized some friends from his time over there. Small world.
Christian, what were you thinking when you decided to go to Iraq??
He was pissed that he didn't get to embed on the first round for the invasion. It was (is?) the biggest story of the century and he wanted to be in on it. He went as a "SOJO" - solo journalist. That's the beauty of modern technology. The support structure is now sitting right there in your laptop. Anyone can be a multimedia journalist and makes a much more compelling story for the reader.
The DoD wants to send jounalists to Iraq but there is still an accreditation process in place that makes it tough. Blackfive and their staff are working to provide another avenue.
Toby says that it's beautiful but it sucks that bloggers aren't getting embeds like they should. However, we're able to fill that gap with something other than a mainstream media voice.
Jack Holt finds that the liability is the big stumbling block right now. The one question that most commanders have before they allow an embed is do they have insurance in place? They want to know that everything is squared away and that you're not going to be left hung out to dry with a big medical bill.
Toby relates an incident in which they got hung up behind a convoy and an IED hit a bus filled with women and children rather than the convoy. They offered aid and were riding high on their actions. That night the WaPo reported that Toby's unit attacked the bus. The story got skewed and Toby and his men were hung out to dry. However the bloggosphere afforded Toby and his unit the opportunity to set the record straight. The milblogging community got behind Bad Voodoo in a big way.
QUESITON: Any pressure from above?
TN: Obviously there is OPSEC. Didn't want anything to distract from ability and lethality. Once the command was convinced of that, it was a go.
BH: Never really had a problem with it. The only time censorship was an issue was from his wife.
QUESTION: JP, what differences did you see between your deployments?
JP: Didn't see much change. Had to consider the fact that his family read what he wrote so there was always that consideration.
BH: Blogging now captures today what's happening on the warfront TODAY. As opposed to letters from previous wars that sat for years before they were captured for history. It's captured raw, unedited. But it's NOW, not 20 years later. Generation Kill versus Band of Brothers. We'll know tomorrow what happened today.
QUESTION: Do you think that someday blog writings will be the "first hand sources" that come with history textbooks?
QUESTION: Did your families watch the film before it was screened? And how did they feel about it?
JP: They all cried a lot during the screening. But it gave them a much better understanding of what we were doing.
TN: They did watch it and they did get a better understanding. But he's still in the doghouse for not communicating effectively with his family what he did before the screening. His website became somewhat of an FRG site in that everyone read it.
QUESTION: When you're over there, doing your thing, do you have kind of a different view as a blogger? Do you look at incidents with an eye toward blogging?
BH: Went with a stack of 3x5 cards and would write down highlights so he wouldn't forget (too many IED hits...his memory is shot) so that he could come back and write about it.
TN: There's a beauty of the relationships built in combat. That's part of bridging that cultural gap. It's important thing for them to understand. Situations can provided some levity. Shows good guys having fun while still doing dangerous work.
CL: Everything is blog fodder. Many a port-o-potty was put up for a caption contest. There is no better notebook than a videocamera.
BH: Writing about difficult events can be therapeutic but it's also very hard to bring those demons out.
QUESTION: Afghanistan. Thoughts?
BH: All the bad guys that left Iraq have moved in to Afghanistan. Germans lost their first soldier in ______ years. We've set the record for number of losses already this year. Partly because there are more of us there. And partly because they've lost in Iraq and they've moved on.
And we're on to the MilBloggies.
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