Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lord have mercy

A week ago, I launched The War Project. The first story was that of Fred Minnick. Soon, I'll be posting a second story.

Since the project was originally conceived of -- in a very rough form -- nearly five years ago, the site's launch was a long time coming. Building the site started late last year. And the first interview was conducted in early June, when I traveled to Kentucky.

Boing Boing, Instapundit, and Use My Computer, among others, were kind enough to link to the site. I received an email from someone who works with the Library of Congress, suggesting their Recorded Sound center may be interested in archiving the audio interviews. I heard from a Fox News TV producer about featuring the project on "Fox News Watch." And I got more than a few emails from people who appreciated the project.

Since the late nineties, I've been a freelance journalist, and, for the most part, culture has been my beat. I've interviewed celebrities, reviewed movies, written feature stories, penned column, blurbed books, did newspaper stories, and been a pundit. While I've covered a range of topics, The War Project is a step in a new direction for me.

I've committed myself to figuring it out as I go along, whatever that entails, because I think that's the best way for the project to develop: organically. It feels different wading into this new territory. It's a bit like moving from the pool to the sea. You're not quite sure where you're going, but you're really pretty damn sure it's not entirely up to you.

A few people have said I'm brave or courageous or something to that effect for taking on the project, but I would attribute any semblance of bravery within me more to willful ignorance, and a decent portion of my motivation in doing the project, as a journalist, was that I was simply fucking sick of editors telling me what to do.

I have and hope to continue to keep The War Project as an island for as along as possible, free from outside influence, the sticky fingers of editors, and reasons for being that have to do with anything but the fact that the stories are there, and they should be told. (The rest is bullshit.)

Some time ago, Xeni compared the concept of this project to the work of Alan Lomax, who traveled around the country recording the songs of sharecroppers, prisoners, and others. Without those recordings, those songs would have been lost forever.

I've learned a lot in the last five years about humility, when to bow out, and, as a journalist particularly, how, most of the time, your subject is way more interesting than you. Sometimes, it's best to shut up and get out of the way.