Wednesday, April 7, 2010

the war in Iraq, via social media

SF Chronicle Executive VP Phil Bronstein talks up the value of social media when it comes to war coverage, vis-a-vis WikiLeaks' recent leaks of encrypted government footage that tracks what transpired when an Apache helicopter crew opened fire on a dozen people -- including two Reuters photographers -- on the streets of Baghdad back in 2007.

He contrasts war coverage via social media versus his own reporting in the Phillipines over 20 years ago, when his notebook and his photog's camera were the only instruments of recorded fact.

From his piece in today's Huffpo:

I've seen a fair number of people killed in countries at war, including combatants, journalists and civilians. Even at ground level, though, in the midst of bone and blood spray, sorting things out is near impossible.

I am sure of one thing: tragedy aside, this is all good for us in the bigger sense, starting with the video release. Transparency is the victor here. More information and even more yelling back and forth gives everyone more data and opportunity to make up their own minds. And it keeps life-and-death topics like war fully in the bull's-eye heat of aggressive social interaction.

That's what's really changed since my war correspondent days. No one today has to be a passive non-combatant in the important moments of our culture.

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