Unfiltered War Stories: Roane’s New Web Site Has Dispatches Straight From The Front

(This article originally appeared as an "Editor's Notebook" in the November 2005 issue of News Photographer magazine)

By Donald R. Winslow

As the dramatic photographs of the last few months linger in my mind, images from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Wilma, scenes from Pakistan’s earthquake, and pictures from the seemingly never-ending war in Iraq, I just can’t shake the feeling that there’s more going on than what we’re seeing, that there are pictures out there that should be seen but aren’t being seen on front pages. Maybe it’s just a feeling fueled by my own fear of how things generally seem to be coming unglued on a global scale, both politically and environmentally (starting with the tsunami). I’m beginning to think that Fox Mulder on “The X-Files” television show maybe wasn’t far from wrong on at least one count, that possibly “the truth is out there.” But where?

For me “out there” has become, to some extent, the Internet. The pictures that have been the most important to me recently are ones that I saw first online. And now there’s a new source of images for those interested in conflict photography who want to read photojournalists’ first-hand experiences, a place for pictures and stories that bypasses the “filter” of news meetings and Page One editors’ personal predilections. It’s the new Web site www.WarShooter.com, created and produced by a respected conflict journalist, Kit R. Roane, who currently writes forU.S. News & World Report.

Roane says he created the site “to provide photojournalists covering conflict and disaster with a voice beyond the editor or the magazine.” In other words, this is where war photographers can tell the whole story, including their personal stories, unfiltered by “the process.”

Roane told me, “My hope is that WarShooter.com will give photojournalists who specialize in this area a specific outlet where they can beat the drum for things they find important, as well as promote their work and exchange ideas. I’m particularly interested in providing a forum for information coming directly from the field, unedited and raw dispatches from those who are on the ground and witnessing the events as they unfold.

“The Web site came about because of my great and general frustration with the state of the news business and where it is headed, the driving force of celebrity, and the constant squeezing of the news hole at many papers. I was also pretty shocked when I came back from Iraq following the invasion and found that many publications had failed to show a full picture of war. … While the Internet provides opportunity for photojournalists covering the important stories of the day, the ability of photojournalists to get those stories out through traditional media outlets becomes more difficult every day. I mean Life magazine used to be about, well, life. Now it features ‘the sexiest cars of 2006.’ Even if WarShooter fails to do anything more, it will at least give good dedicated photographers a place to note their work and have a few people take a look at it.

“I am a writer and photojournalist. But this portal is a personal endeavor, unaffiliated with my work. It’s really not about me at all. I am just providing a means for others to get their words and their work out.”

Covering conflict is something he knows well. For more than a decade Roane has worked as a photojournalist and writer covering Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as investigating folks who’ve been called “mobsters and corporate thieves.” A Texas native, he was a journalist at The New York Times before joining U.S. News; his photography is represented by SIPA Press. New stories are now appearing on WarShooter and it’s worth checking out.