Luca Conti, Italian, founder and director of the blog Pandemia and technology and media expert, is leaving today as the first Italian blogger embedded with the NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The project pertains to the NATO press tours: journalists and bloggers from the countries which have troops based in Afghanistan are invited to a tour around the country. The aim - Conti reported on his blog - is to show the press the reconstruction process, under the aegis of NATO, within the country so that they can inform the public opinion about the improvements in terms of security and governance the Afghan civil society is making. Journalists will visit the NATO's Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Conti is leaving today for Kabul from Brussels, where he visited the NATO's general headquarters and spoke with the US Ambassador to NATO, Ivo H. Daalder, for a first briefing on the general working of the international organization and on the transition situation Afghanistan is currently facing, which will lead to the definitive withdrawal of the allied troops on 2014.
With the Ambassador, Conti talked about eDiplomacy and the use that diplomacy makes of social networks and new technologies. Ambassador Daaler revealed he created a Twitter account last February, which he personally updates and edits.
The Editors Weblog spoke to Conti about the details of this mission, which is funded by the US government and NATO. He will be in Afghanistan for a week, starting in Kabul, hoping to update his blog every evening.
Editors Weblog: What are your main goals?
Luca Conti: To see with my own eyes what is happening there and sharing it on the web with readers of my blogs, followers on my Twitter account and social networks.
EW: Who are your fellow travellers?
LC: Magdalena Trusinova is from Czech Republic and works for a radio,
Sandra Ratzow, from Germany, works for a TV channel, Andras Kiraly, Hungary, works for index.hu, Marek Zbigniew Rybarczyk from Poland works for Newsweek Polska and Tomas Visilko, from Slovakia, works for a newspaper.
EW: What does it mean to be embedded and what do you think are NATO's aim regarding the press tours?
LC: I will be able to explain more about being embedded on my return, for now I can say that despite several documents to sign (here are the Media Ground Rules), the maximum of freedom of expression is assured. NATO wants to show the side of the coin that usually is left out by traditional media: the effectiveness of the reconstruction, the part of the country on its way to development and all the civil organizations working on the field, aside from the army. They have an interest in showing the best side of the picture but I think that despite this it's an interesting story to tell and to live, even if is just one side of the country.
EW: Which is the main difference between a journalist embedded and a blogger embedded?
LC: I think the main difference is related to the editorial lines, to the freedom to report what there is beyond mere news. I'm not a newspaper correspondent, I don't have a story to tell at all costs, I just have the right informative means to report what I see, even those things at the margins of the story.
Newspapers often don't have the space to tell that part of the story and sometimes they don't consider it relevant for the readers. I love to get readers involved, telling anecdotes that aren't really news but that can help the readers to feel the atmosphere as they would be there. I'm not a war correspondent, I am not supposed and I don't even want to report about the hot spots of the war.
The blogger has the opportunity to look at and to report the reality from a different perspective, without the pressure of editorial requirements. It's not a competition, it's not contrast, it's just something different. A different perspective.