EdCone.com did a quick Q&A with Garry Trudeau about his new milblog, The Sandbox:
EC: What do blogs in general, and this blog in particular, offer in terms of war coverage that traditional media cannot or does not provide?
Garry Trudeau: First person accounts. If you count both theaters, we have 170,000 potential contributors. And they're stuck in a lot of places embeds rarely go.
EC: What is your motivation for doing this blog
GT: There didn't seem to be one place to go to read an aggregate of consistently interesting milblogging. There are clearingouse sites, filled with links, but you could spend your life trying to find compelling posts. We started by cherrypicking -- finding the best pieces already out there -- but we're already getting strong enough material submitted directly that we can just go with our own exclusives. Who knows? If the quality stays high, The Sandbox may evolve into a kind of GWOT literary magazine.
EC:Do you read a lot of non-military blogs? If so, why? Any
GT: I occasionally check out Andrew Sullivan or Huffington, but I don't read any blogs on a regular basis. The wheat to chaff ratio just doesn't make it a good investment of time. The reason for the uneven quality is obvious -- to hold an audience, most bloggers are under constant pressure to feed the beast whether they have anything to say or not.
EC:The Daily News quotes you as saying The Sandbox will be a forum for "the unclassified details of deployment - the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd.” What measures will you take to make sure the information at the site is both unclassified, and accurate? Have you discussed this with military brass?
GT: No. The troops are extremely careful about classified information, and we haven't seen anything that seems remotely sensitive militarily. As for accuracy, there's no way for us to check. Our only requirement is that the poster have a military address. After that, it's his or her story to tell. Since we're seeing very little braggadocio -- most are humble, personal stories -- we have no reason to doubt their accounts. And remember, it's not reporting, it's blogging. Readers understand the difference.
EC: You announced the site in your Sunday strip – how else
will you get the word out to troops in Iraq and to families at
GT:We'll take promotional opportunities as we can, but mostly we're depending on word of mouth. So far so good. We're in the odd position of not wanting to be too successful. We really don't have the resources to edit and post more than 4-5 submissions (and their comments) a day.
EC: What kind of feedback have you gotten from current and former troops about your coverage of the war, at the level of policy and on the ground, and of B.D.?
GT: It's been great. I'm sure there are plenty of soldiers who have no use for my politics -- or views on the war -- but I don't seem to be meeting them. The many vets and wounded soldiers I've encountered so far just seem to appreciate the sustained attention to the many issues they're confronting.