Yahoo! hires top journalist to tour world's danger areas
"One man. A World of Conflict." That is how the internet portal Yahoo! is announcing its move into the world of war reporting. Hiring one of the world's best-known war correspondents is seen as a move by Yahoo! to widen its horizons and challenge traditional media companies.
Kevin Sites, the American cameraman famous for filming the shooting by a US soldier of an apparently unarmed civilian in a Falluja mosque, is the man Yahoo! has hired. His job is to report solo from every "hot zone" in the world over the coming year.
Yahoo! announced the signing as part of its effort to provide "reporting for the new millennium". His style is described as "backpack journalism - narrative storytelling techniques" for the internet.
Sites, 42, will visit every place listed by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London as a site of armed conflict. The criterion will be that the conflict has been active in the past three months. The IISS lists about 50 sites but some of these (Peru, Mexico, Greece) are "dormant" and others, such as Spain and Cyprus, are unlikely to be featured.
The plan is for Sites to operate alone, using translators, drivers and minders when he needs them. He will have three small video cameras, one of which has been adapted so that it can be worn on a headband like a miner's lamp. A "mission control" team will be based in the US.
Sites started work as a 15-year-old photographer - he lied about his age - on the Geneva Free Press in Ohio and is now based in southern California. He is one of a breed of solo journalists or "sojos" who travel to conflict zones and offer their freelance services to established outfits.
His decision to release the footage shot in Falluja last November when he was embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine regiment made him the focus of rightwing opprobrium in the US. He has received many death threats and accusations of treason.
"If the truth is known then people will be able to make the responsible decisions that they need to make in a democracy," he told the Guardian in June. "And if you're burying it you're not trusting them with that responsibility, you're saying that democracy doesn't work."
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