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17:00

Knight News Challenge: How will Marines use new social media rules to tell the story of Afghanistan?

The U.S. Marine Corps lifted its ban on social media tools like Twitter and Facebook earlier this year. One Knight News Challenge Winner, Teru Kuwayama, wants to chronicle what that new policy means, and perhaps even change the way the U.S. receives and consumes news about war.

Kuwayama is a photojournalist who has spent the last nine years photographing Afghanistan as a freelance journalist. (He spent this last year at Stanford as a Knight Fellow.) His idea is an outgrowth of his experiences documenting the war and his frustration with the coverage that results from quick embed stints by professional journalists. The opportunity for Marines to use new tools to share information has the potential to give the public a better understanding of an important story. At the same time, he hopes to set up an infrastructure for reporters to connect better with the military, improving stories before they go out, and giving soldiers a chance at feedback.

I spoke with Kuwayama about his plans for the $202,000 grant. He says he departs for Afghanistan this September, joining the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines (hence the name of his project, One-Eight) for the duration of their tour, which should last seven months, but could extend up to a year. He’ll rotate in other journalists during the project for shorter periods. He expects those reporters will also produce work for their own outlets. Kuwayama is still working out some questions around his project — like to what extent he’s documenting how the marines are using social media, versus fostering that use, or repackaging their content for the public.

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