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January 21, 2008
Michael Yon finally gets some recognition
Readers of The American Thinker know the high regard we hold for blogger Michael Yon, who has spent most of the last 3 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those of us who hunger for the real story of what is happening in the war zones have come to depend on Mr. Yon's embedded reports for the unvarnished truth about Iraq and the many facets of our military's efforts there.
Yon, Bill Roggio, Michael Totten and a few others have taken it upon themselves to go to Iraq to see for themselves what is happening on the ground. The remarkable thing, as this New York Times article makes clear, is that Yon and the others self-finance their trips overseas mostly via internet donations:
Mr. Yon, however, does not work for any organization; no news outlet pays him for the hundreds of dispatches and photos he has produced. He publishes his work on his own Web site, michaelyon-online.com (some will appear again in a book set for release in April), and he also posts submissions from military people serving in Iraq. He says contributions from his readers have paid most of his costs, though he declines to say how much they have given.Finally, after three years, Yon seems to have gotten the respect of the mainstream journalistic community:
He went to Iraq believing that the mainstream news media were bungling the story, and he still often criticizes the media’s pessimism. But he has also praised particular reporters from major outlets, or defended the media in general, explaining how difficult and dangerous it is to cover the war. The Times quotes liberally from some of Yon's incisive dispatches as well as describing his outlook on the war. The tone is generally positive and highlights Yon's dedication to the job.
Along the way, he created a niche outlet that is better reported than most blogs, and more opinionated than most news reporting, with enough first-hand observation, clarity and skepticism to put many professional journalists to shame.
My own opinion is that the embedded bloggers who risk their lives to give us the full picture of what is going on in Iraq are performing a national service of immense value and importance. They are today's Ernie Pyles - giving us a grunt's eye view of the conflict without sparing the brass or our political leaders if he believes they are acting stupidly.
That kind of honesty is all we who have relentlessly criticized the media for their coverage of the war have wanted and what has been missing from most media outlets for nearly 5 years.