On Wednesday I briefly presented about Kevin Sites and his project "In the Hot Zone" for my Reinventing the News class. Sites is a veteran war correspondent who reported for NBC, ABC, and CNN. Today he is referred to as a solo journalist or "sojo."
He has dodged many bullets while risking his life to report on the terrors of war. During his time at CNN, he was taken hostage by Saddam's militia. Fortunately, his translator managed to negotiate their release after a day. In 2004, he was an embedded correspondent with U.S. Marines in Fallujah. Sites fueled a heated controversy over his footage of a U.S. Marine shooting and killing an apparently unarmed Iraqi soldier. Sites endured hate emails and death threats for a year after airing his NBC report. Watch the video to see the incident for yourself.
On November 13, 2004 Sites blogged about the shooting:
"The carpet of the mosque is stained with blood and covered with fragments of concrete. Tank shells and machine-gun rounds have pitted the inside walls. The rotting, sweet smell of death hangs in the morning air. Gunsmoke-laced sunbeams illuminate the bodies of four Iraqi insurgents. A fifth lies next to a column, his entire body covered by a blanket.
Something very wrong has happened here.
Yesterday I had seen these same five men being treated by American medics for superficial wounds received during an afternoon firefight. Ten other insurgents had been killed, their bodies still scattered around the main hall in the black bags into which the Marines had placed them."
I think Sites' decision to release the footage confirms his character and dedication to journalism, although many people accused him of being anti-American. If you read his letter to 3.1 Marines, it is clear he has the utmost respect for the soldiers he was embedded with.
The Hot Zone is the final product of Sites' year long journey across the globe through every major war and conflict zone. Sites took advantage of internet technology by incorporating many multimedia components into his project. There are powerful photographs, videos, diary entries, and written reports. Each leg of the journey is broken down into chapters with exclusive video footage, pictures, and more than enough text to create a vivid picture of the particular country or war zone. You can search by chapter or scroll down to the bottom where there is a list of covered "hot zones."
I'm fascinated by the idea of a solo journalist traveling with his or her own equipment, discovering the personal struggles and triumphs of individuals caught in the wrath of violent politics. If only I were brave enough to travel to some of the most dangerous places in the world and search for truth.