”Kevin Sites is a damn good man, and everything a war reporter should be. He's not a shill for either side, but he does give a damn about real soldiers and civilians. Check out the dudes resume sometime, he's been to practically every hotspot on the globe, from Iraq to the Balkans to the Tsunami, to the worst parts of Africa. Brave man, in a lot of ways.” (Mudville Gazette)
A pioneer of Backpack Journalism. Kevin Sites specializes in covering war zones, he is considered a veteran American war correspondent, spending more than five years covering wars around the world. He has a master's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. His published works includes a Yahoo! news coverage called Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone which started September 26, 2005, his own web page http://www.kevinsites.net/ - a blog, and his numerous free lance work. Sites has “worked in local, cable and network news, including ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley." Additionally, he has published numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, including Popular Science, BlackBook, and The New Times.” (Yahoo! - Kevin) He was also Yahoo!'s first news correspondent. Sites lives in Southern California when not traveling, and grew up in Geneva, Ohio.
An interesting trend I have noticed when searching for materials on Kevin Sites is that there are a lot of blogs on him. A few praise him, but the majority use Sites as a place of attack, seemingly declaring that Sites is a traitor to his own country and is guilty of treason. Most of the blogs I read were created by what I would call worthless entities, but if a lot of people read them... then a lot of people are misinformed. I started looking for a worthwhile criticism of Sites and I couldn’t even find one. A lot of the ridicule was from him showing footage of a marine killing an unarmed insurgent lying on the floor, and his footage of watching an old man bleed to death. They claim Sites should not have reported the marine’s actions or footage, that it made American troops seem brutal and that it could lead to the collapse of the war efforts by shadowing hypocrisy and brutalism, and that Sites is unpatriotic for putting his journalism above his country. Others attack Sites for feeling pity for himself watching another man bleed to death when he could have put him out of his misery. The connotation behind these claims are at the root of all morale questions, of course. Perhaps part of the reason Sites has received such harsh treatment from the bloggers is that Yahoo! allows comments on all of his articles. Then the bloggers go to offsite places and write their essays. These blogs also tend to analyze the faults of the world on the woes of these zones of conflict. Regardless if people approve of Sites or not, whether they like his choice of what to present and what not to, Sites is accurate and in the hot zone. He digs up the dirt on the effects of conflict on the civilian. So what if he made a name of himself? That’s in human nature, but he didn’t make his name as a “Gotcha reporter.” The more his name sells the more his story is read, this is good journalism.
In one year he visited 22 conflict zones and 19 countries, covering them all in depth with multimedia:
- Afghanistan - The Northern and Eastern Alliance forces before and after the fall of the Taleban.
- Cambodia - The aftermath of the genocide and sex trade.
- Chechnya - The terrorism, including the Beslan school siege.
- Colombia - The U.S. anti-drug efforts, including coca-spraying operations and the training of the Colombian government's Jungle Commandos.
- Congo - Rebellion against the government.
- Haiti - 200 years of conflict hasn’t changed.
- Iran - Sex, drugs, and HIV. Affects of political pressure over nuclear program.
- Iraq - Rebuilding, a look at the past regime.
- Kashmir - India/Pakistan control issues and results on people.
- Israel/Palestinians - Suicide bombers, the West Bank, a good take on the Palestinian view point.
- Lebanon - Rebuilding from civil war, Palestinian refugees, and shadows of Syrian troops.
- Myanmar (Burma) - Under military rule, 58 years of fighting for independence.
- Nepal - Maoist rebels, a force estimated to be 20,000 strong, waging a 10-year war against the royal government of Nepal.
- Somalia - Anarchy, African al-Qaida, and warlords.
- Sri Lanka - Land mine problem, rebel Tamil Tigers, and tsunami affects.
- Sudan - Aftermath of civil war between North and South, medical treatment (the 15-minute malaria test), and if peace is as dangerous as war here.
- Syria - Rogue state? Regime Change? The 400 mile border into Iraq and the stress points.
- Uganda - Fifty-thousand Ugandans become refugees every night, fleeing the Lord's Resistance Army, HIV, and desire for a 20 year old war to end.
- Vietnam - Cleaning up bombed provinces, and a story on an American veteran living back in Vietnam.
“Sites also reported from ground zero in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in the aftermath of the recent Southeast Asia tsunami.” (Yahoo - Kevin) Brief descriptions of what Sites has done in these countries observed from the Yahoo!’s listings of his articles. It has been compiled.
Putting a human face on global conflict
Sites covered “People like the Afghan child bride, Gulsoma, who was given away in marriage at the age of four and tortured nearly to death by her in-law family; a Congolese woman named Serapina who was repeatedly raped by rebel soldiers and then forced to eat the flesh of her husband who was killed in front of her; a Nepalese boy named Yubaraj who at the age of 12 became head of the household when his father died and who now parks motorcycles 16 hours a day to support his family when he wishes he could be in school.” (Hotzone) He presented such stories to prove that 1. “The world is indeed filled with conflict, pain and suffering, and that amazing people overcome it everyday,” and that 2. “In war, it is not the combatants, but the civilian population that ultimately pays the highest price in death, injury and the legacy of destruction.”
Kevin Sites has been:
- Captured–“On April 11, 2003, as a CNN correspondent in Iraq, Sites was captured by Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia. One day after they were captured their Kurdish translator negotiated their release.” (Wikipedia)
- Famously ridiculed–In November 2004, Sites caught footage of the killing of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner lying on the floor inside a mosque in Fallujah by a US marine. He released the video and it was aired everywhere except inside the US it was only allowed in still photo.
- Awarded–The Payne Award, for ethics in journalism.
- Nominated–Emmy Award.