Robert Capa brought home the truth of the Spanish Civil War…
We live in a world of images.
The intense power of images to convey both emotion and truth have been all around us since Matthew Brady captured both the reality of the Civil War and Lincoln some 150 years ago. The world of painting is filled with the romantic iconography of ‘war’; Napoleon on the battlefield.
The truth of combat is far uglier.
There are now more than 180,000 US troops in Iraq.
It’s a good bet that a fair number of them are carrying video cameras; some into battle.
A search on Youtube for Iraq + army gives more than 60,000 hits. Iraq + soldier gives more than 40,000. And that is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Look at the images.
They are a real, honest and gritty look at what life in Iraq is really like. This is not the work of ’embedded’ network correspondents, flown in, pampered, directed, protected and flown out.
This is real.
And it is incredibly disturbing to look at.
The video is raggedy. The people who have shot it and in many cases cut it have no formal training. But their access and the honest truth is speaks far outweigh the technical flaws.
Yet none of this.. none of it, has ever appeared on network or cable news.
Why is that?
Why is it that we can nightly see Laura Logan doing stand ups in the highly protected Green Zone, (and at enormous cost), when the real video of what is really going on is buried in Youtube or God only knows where else.
And this is just from the Americans.
There must be another hundred thousand Iraqis with video cameras documenting what is happening to their country.
This is just the very beginning of the video tidal wave that is about to engulf us.
But it is not as though some are not prepared for this.
This, from Lostremote:
A recent rule for embedded journalists in Iraq bans any video or photographs that show dead soldiers, and wounded troops must sign a consent form before their images can be broadcast or published. “They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” said Ashley Gilbertson, a freelance photographer for NY Times and Newsweek, among others. “I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics.” Meanwhile, Iraqi police are beginning to confiscate cameras on sight.
People are beginning to empower themselves in video. In time, they will pick up the necessary skills to make themselves ‘video literate’, (just as peasants in Medieval Europe taught themselves to read and write after Gutenberg).
What they will have to say will no doubt be very disturbing…
and it should be.
Despite the vast array of television, cable, newspapers, radio and web, the truth is that we have all been living in a kind of ‘information desert’ until now.
But not for much longer…..