I must recommend to Chi Trib, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Daily Southtown, and any other Chi medium as news and/or feature subject, Michael Yon. He’s a former Green Beret who became an “independent journalist” last January after attending funerals of friends killed in Iraq. Traveling with U.S. troops — “embedded” is the word we got familiar with during the initial fighting — but sometimes going off on his own in Mosul and other hot spots, he blogs with words and pictures, providing a unique view of Iraq that’s an important alternative to daily roadside explosions and other horrors of war.
Back in February, one month into his stay in Iraq, writer Michael Yon almost ended his attempt to chronicle the war in an online blog. He lacked the backing of a newspaper, magazine or book publisher, and grew weary of the risks of life in a combat zone as he embedded with U.S. troops.
"I was ready to get out. I wasn't getting paid, and it was damn dangerous," Yon said. "Every day I was thinking 'Is this the day I might get killed or get my legs blown off?' "
Yon hung on, emerging as one of the best-read bloggers of the war (his site is michaelyon.blogspot.com), as he chronicled a tumultuous spring and summer in Mosul with the "Deuce Four," a battalion of the 24th Infantry Regiment, part of the Fort Lewis-based 1st Brigade (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division.
He’s been adopted and sometimes accompanied by actor Bruce Willis, and there’s this coverage here, but mainstreamers have not caught on to Yon so far. True, he’s not a newspaper guild member (I don’t think), but that doesn’t stop Chi Trib of course and shouldn’t bother the guild shops either. They are missing good stuff, such as:
Posted July 21, 2005
Description of weapons cache found in a room hidden under a barnyard floor. Mosul, Iraq
The temperature down there was at least 20 degrees beyond any measure of hot. The air was filthy with dust, darkness, and the menace that wafted like a stench off all the bombs, bombs, and more bombs. I was sitting on bombs and missiles that I could not identify — there was not enough floor cleared for three men to stand. There were mortar rounds, some with fuses, some without. Some fuses had no safety pins. Some rounds had charges on the fins. There were surface-to-air missiles, RPGs, and strange munitions of various sorts. The danger was severe, but with this much explosives, it wouldn't matter if you were in the hole or a hundred yards away; if this thing blows, game over.
Are the daily newspapers of Chicago and elsewhere missing a good bet, or aren’t they?