Iraq: News in Transition

Vietnam is widely considered to be the first "living-room war." From the televised speeches of Lyndon Johnson to Walter Cronkite's public denouncement of the war, television has shaped America's public perception of Vietnam.

What began in Vietnam more than thirty years ago came full circle during Operation Desert Storm thanks to the 24-hour news-cycle and the rise of CNN. Images of combat resembling a low-tech video game appeared on every American living room minute after minute, exhausting the valuable news there was to cover.

Now, after the invasion of Iraq, television and traditional news media are losing ground, signaling the era of a new kind of journalism. There are reasons for this.

The complex political motivation that led us into war and that continues to permeate the debate over our role in the region, as well as the controversies and in some cases, compliance of the major news corporations as to what the public should know about the war, have left a skeptical American citizenry hungry for the truth... or at least, a version of the truth.

With changes in technology and with the introduction of self-publishing web tools such as blogs and video-sharing sites like YouTube and the British-based Liveleak, which holds hundreds of amateur (and disturbing) war videos, this truth is just but one click away.

This "laptop-war" as some people refer to it, has created an unprecedented amount of DIY reporting. From mobile-phone videos of Saddam's hanging to e-mail photographs of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, these media leaks into the news-sphere are providing a different perspective on the war. And although their audience reach will never amount to the vast numbers of a news network, their impact is being felt loud and clear.

Through the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Rick Loomis, the videoblog Alive in Baghdad, a selection of military blogs, and the PBS documentary Operation Homecoming, this issue of Web Stories will explore the ways in which new media technologies and the internet have changed the immediacy, look and veracity of the war, exposing the limits of our mainstream media and shedding light on new models of citizen and participatory journalism.
Check out the full issue here.

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