14 January 2013

'A Journalist, a Satirist, and a Truth-Squader ...'

Sometimes, attending a conference or a trade show is pays for itself with just one chance meeting or epiphany. This one, from last week's mil-blogging track New Media Expo, starts out sounding like the beginning a bad joke: "A journalist, a satirist, and one-man truth-squad walk into a room ..."

I had this mug-shot taken in Vegas.
As mentioned in a previous Red Bull Rising post, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion regarding the "next generation" of mil-bloggers, along with Mark Seavey ("This Ain't Hell" and The American Legion's "The Burn Pit" blogs) and Paul Szoldra ("The Duffel Blog.")

At first, there seemed to be few similarities, beyond the fact that each of us is a U.S. military veteran. Szoldra's biting social commentary is raw, timely, and gut-punchingly funny. ("First Sergeant Gives 72-hour-long Weekend Liberty Brief," is a recent example.) Seavey's targeting of "Stolen Valor" offenders is passionate, articulate, and grounded in his law-degree training. Me? I started my own blog-journey as a storytelling citizen-soldier, and ended up with my return to my journalistic roots. These days, I write as much to encourage others to record their stories, as I do to relate my own.

During our collective hour in the spotlight, however, I came to this realization: Each of us is engaging, in different ways and forms, in an effort to make sense of a post-OIF/OEF narrative.

I'm old enough to remember the 1970s and 1980s, when people were still arguing over What the Vietnam War Meant. Heck, people are still discussing it, along with similar conversations about the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm. "Everybody knows why they go to war, but no one is quite sure why they went."

Exploring, examining, arguing, and documenting what it means to have engaged in this "Global War of Terror" seems just as important as what the first generation of mil-blogs set to do: Report first-person narrative from the front lines, in a manner less filtered than that of traditional forms of media.

Anecdotally, of course, there seems to have been a recent renaissance in writers who are continuing to do just that. You'll find some of them recently added to the Red Bull Rising blog-roll: James L. Gibson is one. Afghan Battle Fox is another.

Different stories, different times, different tactics, different voices.

But always "one team, one fight."

And mil-blogs still matter.


Note: This content regarding military writing is underwritten by Victor Ian LLC, a military media and gaming business. The business publishes Lanterloon, an eclectic lifestyle, technology, and military blog; has a physical retail storefront called "Dragons and Dragoons" located in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and hosts military-writing workshops and other events under the "Sangria Summit" brand name.

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