Kevin Sites – the online war correspondent


In the hotzone…

“One man, one year, one world of conflict!”

I can’t be the only one who thinks this sounds like a tv format- as so much does on the web these days. As commissioning editors churn out tired ideas on our tv screens, along come the forward-thinking web developers. I’ve certainly never heard of a war correspondent working exclusively online like Kevin Sites did for Yahoo back in 2006-08. I find his hotzone site very interesting in the context of the things we’ve been looking at. Most of all I believe it offers a glimpse into the future- video blog entries uploaded each week, made by one man with minimal, necessary equipment.

It seems remarkable that all the content can come from a mere rucksack of stuff. Just look at the part of the site where it shows Kevin’s equipment; it shows you just how far technology has come in a few years. The cameras are light, the satellite phone is tiny and there are entire editing suites on computers the size of hardback books.

As technology becomes easier, more complex, smaller and cheaper the possibilities become great- but questions are raised. The technology is available to almost anyone and the number of voices straining to be heard rises and rises. This is the twitter universe. We choose who we listen to but have less of an idea about who they are.

The hotzone may be a bad example because the reporting is excellent and Sites is obviously a well-respected correspondent, but this is still one man’s take on the world. The camera never lies? The irony of that old saying is that the camera can only ever show the perspective of the person who uses it. If journalists are expected to create accurate unbiased reports, it’s surely a lot harder to do it alone?


2 Responses to Kevin Sites – the online war correspondent

  1. ninasaada says:

    Josh I am absolutely fascinated in this man… (and no not in that way!). But seriously I must admit I’d not heard of Kevin Sites until you spoke about him in your presentation and now I am intrigued about his journalistic skills and his abilitly to single-handedly produce all of this content for so many different mediums. This takes video journalism to a whole new level and in a way I think it’s what many of us are really aspiring to and gearing up for, at least to a degree.

    The fact that he covered 22 conflicts in one year is almost incomprehensable but also raises the question; is that what’s expected of us journo’s now? And if so, will the the quality of journalism deminish if we have to master all tehnologies… not everyone’s going to be as talented and skillful across the board as Kevin Sites. I know you covered this argument fully in your presentation, but I think it’s a very important one.

    When this was put to Rob Kirk from Sky News, he said taht Sky are attracted to journo’s who are multi skilled, but are more interested in taking on people who are really outstanding in one area rather than being just ‘average’ in all areas.

    Clearly it’s not acceptable to just excel in one area anymore and it’s essential that we try to be as multi-platform as possible in our journalism… But should we all aspire to be the next Kevin Sites and possibly run the risk of losing sight of what it is we’re really good at and passionate about?


  2. pyemaster says:

    Josh surely it is easier to create unbiased reports when you are alone as you have no guidelines to curtail what you say. Finding stories and knocking up packages/reports before selling them to anyone interested gives you ultimate freedom. I agree that one’s solo version of the truth does stand to be biased, but its easier to avoid being shaped by those above you with an agenda.

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