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Copyright © 2006 riceNpeas
Reporting the world's conflicts without the support of a crew is not an easy thing to do. Especially if you are going to film US soldiers shooting unarmed Iraqis.

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone is a feature running out of Yahoo! online which defines itself as: “news reporting for the new millennium - a nexus of backpack journalism, narrative story-telling techniques, and the Internet, designed to reach a global audience hungry for information.”  According to the mission statement, the goal of The Hot Zone is: “To cover every armed conflict in the world within one year, and in doing so to provide a clear idea of the combatants, victims, causes, and costs of each of these struggles - and their global impact. With honest, thoughtful reporting we'll strive to establish Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone as a forum for information and involvement. Users will not only learn about the scope of world conflict, but will find ways to be part of the solutions- through dialogue, debate, and avenues for action.”

Sites spent five years working for several national networks, including ABC, NBC, and CNN, covering global war and disaster.  He has worked all over the world, from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia, and most recently, in the Middle East.  In November of 2004, while working for NBC, he videotaped a US marine shooting an already-wounded Iraqi soldier in a Fallujah mosque.  The airing of the footage was the cause of great controversy; while many praised him for his journalistic integrity, others, including the marine unit with whom he had been traveling, called him a traitor to his country.  Despite the accusations of treason, the footage earned Sites both a 2004 Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism and a national Emmy Award nomination.

The idea originally started as a  war blog online at www.kevinsites.net which The Hot Zone site now boasts as: “one of the first to combine text, digital images, and audio to provide readers with an intimate, behind-the-lines look at the war in Iraq and how it was being covered.”  This was later picked up by Yahoo! when Sites became Yahoo’s first-ever news correspondent and Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone was founded.

Sites travels on his own, calling himself a “SoJo” (solo journalist).  He was one of the earliest pioneers of “backpack journalism,” so named because he carries all of his equipment on his back and works without a crew in an attempt to tell to the world many of the stories which the mainstream media fails to cover.  From some of the world’s most dangerous zones, Sites single-handedly shoots, writes, edits, and transmits multi-media reports which are then broadcast by Yahoo! to more than 400 million readers. Kevin Sites is a recipient of the 2006 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. You can view his work, including photos, video, and reports from some of the world’s most conflicted regions at http://hotzone.yahoo.com/

1st October 2006
Who is Kevin Sites?
By Jill A. Bolstridge