The banner across the top of the site reads, “In a World of Conflict, the Truth Must Survive”. Below the banner, we see a twenty-two year old image of a dead man, minutes before he met his fate. The image, captured by Israeli photographer Alex Levac in 1984, shows a Palestinian hijacker being led away by Israeli Defense Forces. Minutes after the shot was taken, the hijacker was dead. The official story issued by Israeli authorities said the hijacker was already dead when the IDF found him. The story illustrates the importance of war correspondence in an environment where the greatest casualty is almost always the truth.
Welcome to the words and images of Kevin Sites, in the Hot Zone.
For the past six months, journalist Kevin Sites has been traveling to some of the most brutal places on Earth to document and share stories that would otherwise go untold. Calling his journey an experiment in “backpack journalism”, Sites’ goal is to, “… cover every armed conflict in the world within one year, and in doing so to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles – and their global impact.”
This week, Sites examines one of the most confusing and captivating wars, the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. The coverage will tear your heart out, regardless of your political opinions or cultural heritage.
Sites’ approaches his subjects with a humility rarely seen in Western journalists. He not only wishes to inform his readers about the conflict he is covering, he tries to introduce his readers to the human element often ignored in the course of televised war coverage. Using the Internet as his medium offers Sites the advantage of virtually unlimited space to tell those stories. As he does, his viewers are aptly reminded that the dead once spoke, often with passion, grace, love and emotion.
Sites enters conflict zones armed only with communication equipment consisting of a high definition Sony video camera, a Samsung Camcorder, an Apple Powerbook, Palm Treo Smartphone, and a satellite phone/modum. His material is available as content through the Yahoo Publisher Network and for all readers of Yahoo News. Thus far, he has covered stories from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Israel / Palestine.
This is likely one of the most relevant and important experiments in citizens’ journalism, ever. Though Sites is a professional journalist, he is working from the grassroots without the support of a traditional news gathering organization. In the process, Sites tells a series of stories that fill in the gaps left by mainstream and alternative news sources. Sometimes the most important truths about war are found in the little details, the people living in the conflict zones.