Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Bringing the war in Afghanistan home, by iPhone

Aug. 4, 2011, 2:07 p.m., Posted by Jose C. Zamora

Photos by Teru Kuwayama

Foreign Policy magazine highlights Basetrack, a 2010 Knight News Challenge winner and social media reporting project that accompanied the First Battalion, Eighth Marines for the first five months of their deployment in Afghanistan.  The piece gives unique insight into life in war with a photo-essay of images taken with an iPhone.

“It is by no means a comprehensive look at 10 years of war, but it is an evocative and profound slice of life -- at the beginning of the end of the longest conflict in U.S. history,” writes Foreign Policy.

Basetrack builds on project director Teru Kuwayama’s nine years of experience working as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan.  Kuwayama wanted to counteract the problem many journalists had in presenting in-depth content because of their short embed periods by pursuing a year-long exploration of what soldiers face during war.  Basetrack also sought to experiment with new ways to report war stories, following the military’s 2010 lift on the ban on social media. To do so, Basetrack has used Twitter, Facebook, Web and mobile technology to do war reporting and to chronicle the emergence and evolution of social media use by the military.

Using Hipstamatic, an iPhone app that lets users customize their photos with distinct filters and effects, they were able to capture and chronicle the Marines’ story.  It is their hope that the material presents the war in a way that is true to life and more in tune with the way news consumers might grasp war reporting in the U.S.  

Check out their photo-essay in Foreign Policy here, take a look at the Basetrack: ONE-EIGHT Book or see Basetrack.org for a full log of the projects’ images.  For more information on how the Knight News challenge invests in projects at the forefront of journalism and media innovation, visit newschallenge.org.