"Basetrack is a Web-based reporting initiative with the photographers Teru Kuwayama, Balazs Gardi and Tivadar Domaniczky. Its “forward crew” is embedded with the First Battalion, Eighth Marines in Afghanistan. The rest of the team tracks regional news and relevant information, adding it to material transmitted from Afghanistan. Michael Kamber spoke with Mr. Kuwayama last month. Their conversation has been edited and condensed.
A. "When this Marine officer asked me, “Will you be with us for this whole tour?” my first instinct was, yeah, that’s fascinating. But my second was: yeah, I’ve been doing this for I don’t know how many years and I don’t even honestly know who’s going to care. What do these pictures actually accomplish? Who cares about 1,000 Marines?
You can pinpoint a cluster of people who care. We create a pipeline between 1,000 Marines working in very austere, isolated conditions in southern Afghanistan and connect them to their mothers, their fathers, their wives, their girlfriends, their husbands and their kids. Nobody has more authenticity to talk about this war, its costs, its consequences, and maybe even offer some analysis about how this could be done better. That’s effectively what the project is. The stream of photographs we send out is embedded with news articles, bits of analysis, facts, figures. And it is going out on Facebook.com/basetrack.
So people can access it through Facebook and leave comments?
There’s a wall they can write on. This is actually the most interesting thing to me. We don’t have an unlimited budget to run a satellite transmitter and send out pictures every day, so we’ve actually uploaded very little content. What is happening pretty fast is that the mothers, girlfriends, husbands, etc., started searching for pictures of the Marines and then posted them on the Web site. So the site generates its own content now.
Is this the new journalism?
“You constantly hear these lamentations about the death of journalism. It doesn’t look like that to me. It looks like the birth of journalism.”
— Teru Kuwayama
This is a question of how you define journalism....
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