Opinion: Bloggers are the real war correspondents

Earlier this week, a blogger on message board Kishkushim described her reaction to the first sirens of the day in Haifa and how her boyfriend rather bizarrely hides in the bathroom from Hezbollah missiles.

Over the border, Delirious described falling asleep from exhaustion at 5am to the sound of planes and bombs, only to be woken two hours later by the bombing of the Maameltein Highway. On both sides, bloggers apologise for not posting due to the need to relocate, and lack of power. This is the everyday life of the non-combatant blogger.

For hours this week I have been drawn into a virtual reality that is curiously remote but horrifyingly immediate, yet I have merely scratched the surface of the war in the blogosphere.

It is tempting to romanticise a concept of an online no-man's land in which enemy combatants communicate rationally. But despite rare exceptions, emotions are raw, and attempts to silence opponents - Cold Desert's Ahmed, for example, claims his blog account has been hacked - show just how critical this medium has become for those caught up in the theatre of war. 

Many blogs are highly polemic, but what is ­memorable about these postings is not only how informed they are, but also how graphically they reflect the immediacy of everyday life. While mainstream journalists are searching for the human angle, bloggers are telling their stories directly.

But perhaps most powerful of all are the images - such as the heartbreaking photos of the aftermath of Qana, posted on the Lebanese Bloggers Forum and others. It isn't just the horror of some of the images - which I'm sure the mainstream media would shy away from using - but the sheer quantity. And we aren't just talking stills. ‘Freelance' videobloggers, such as Brian Conley of Alive in Baghdad, honed their skills in Iraq. While mainstream news channels struggle with lack of resources, and window dress with relocated news anchors, the war is being reported with far greater urgency and immediacy by those caught up in the conflict.

Log onto Youtube.com and you can watch shocking mobile phone footage from soldiers, which renders obsolete the relatively new idea of the embedded journalist.

The question is - how long will the public be content to rant about partisan media, when they can simply go direct to the source instead?







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