The Meaning of Citizen Journalism

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of joining Scott Kesterson on his Words of War show. BTR honcho Alan Levy and I had a wide-ranging talk with Scott about what he’s seeing on the ground in Afghanistan, the role of Pakistan in funding the resurgent Taliban, what the U.S. could have done differently, etc.

But the thing I kept coming back to as I thought about that show was the fact that Scott’s out there doing the kind of serious news reporting that was once the domain of the biggest entities in the business — like CBS News (remember Walter Cronkite, anybody? anybody?). Now that role has been abdicated by the big dogs who are busy covering Anna Nicole and Britney.

Thanks Scott for putting your life on the line to let us know what’s going on in our name across the globe.
Here’s some background on Scott and his current assignment from a blog post he wrote last year:

My name is Scott Kesterson. I am a freelance photojournalist. Over the course of the next 16 months I will be embedded with the US Army’s 41st Brigade as they mobilize and deploy to Afghanistan as part of the on-going activities of Operation: Enduring Freedom. The 41st Brigade is composed entirely of National Guard volunteers, with this specific deployment calling-up over 6000 of its soldiers nation wide. I will be living the entire tour along side of the men and women of this Brigade, photographing and recording my experiences here through this blog.

My project is one of passion. It is the realization of a life long dream to work as a combat photographer. Having served with the Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Brigade during the mid 80’s, in both the enlisted ranks, and eventually as a 2nd Lt., I also have a personal interest in documenting this narrative. My focus is and will be the human part of the story; that element that too often gets passed over in the face of headlines and dramatic events. I am a strong believer that the real drama is what happens in the lives of people through the events of the day to day.

Throughout my embed I will be reporting the events as I see them. Through my words, still imagery and video feeds you will be able to follow the operations of the soldiers of 41st Brigade. The mobilization and deployment will be in two parts. The initial 90 days will be at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the soldiers will be in-processed into the active Army, and, trained and conditioned for their work in Afghanistan. In June, the initial wave of deployment will begin, with deployments throughout the country of Afghanistan.

He’s produced some very powerful work — I particularly recommend “The Thin Veil of Hate” and “Guilt and the Daily Contribution to Terror” and this interview with Taylor Marsh.

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