February 8th, 2011
I wrote about Basetrack not too long ago; it’s a novel concept for journalism, a new way to report on the war in Afghanistan. Embedded journalists, supported by a stateside team, use a combination of social media and a website interface to report on a battalion of Marines. The primary audience are the friends and family of the 1000 Marines, but if you’ve visited the site or are on their Facebook feed, you’ll see that it’s a repository for a lot of things relating to the war in Afghanistan. Considering today’s fractured audience, and the ability to pull content from various feeds (thus avoiding “traditional” media), I really do think it’s a novel way to report on a war. “We’ve been calling it a media experiment,” says Teru Kuwayama, the idea guy behind it.
Today word got around that the Marine Corps, over the weekend, decided to cancel the requisite embed making Basetrack what it is. From what I could glean, and many seem puzzled, the chief reasons are operational security (OPSEC) and available resources.
From the letter the Marine Corps sent Basetrack:
“Basetrack is also being asked to leave 1/8’s positions due to perceived Operational Security violations on portions of their website. These concerns are legitimate. Specifically the websites tie in to google maps to display friendly force locations…this Public Affairs office also deems an undue burden on the remaining personnel as the Executive Officer, the primary liaison to Basetrack, rotates back to CONUS.”
Find that letter here, at the Basetrack site.
I’ll let Teru Kuwayama explain the rest here on this downloadable mp3 fromPRI’s “The World,” broadcast today.
Also, read about it here, at the Neiman Journalism Lab.
And one other, on the use of the iPhone as a primary camera on the battlefield.
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