May 11, 2007
History Channel's Band of Bloggers

Last week, I wrote about the political lobbying group MoveOn and their VideoVets project protesting the Iraq war. I recently came across another war-related transmedia initiative as well that I hadn't mentioned, through the History Channel.

The initiative is called Band of Bloggers, through the History Channel. The network will feature a variety of user-generated content from soldiers in Iraq, and the content will be distributed through The History Channel's Web site. The plan is to feature both text and video content from these soldiers and package it on the Web, with a television special expected to launch later in the year to help drive interest in the launch of the online project.

Jon Lafayette with TelevisionWeek comments that the channel "is using new media to tell the story of a new war," as opposed to the black and white documentaries the channel would run for historical military conflicts.

The project has been getting some attention because The History Channel is selling it as part of its upfronts for this year, at a time when upfront sales pitches are focused more on cross-platform content than ever.

History Channel VP/GM Nancy Dubuc was quoted as saying, "This is a generation that's going to see history recorded first-hand. We take our responsibility in preserving that record very seriously."

While the perspectives of soldiers will be as open to criticism as embedded journalism as far as showing the big picture, the point of this data is to show on-the-ground stories from primary sources in a way that has never been captured before in war time.

In the story on VideoVets, which features military families and veterans protesting the war, I wrote, "This proliferation of content combining 'everyday voices' with well-known auteurs and distributing this work across multiple media forms creates an immersive campaign that MoveOn hopes will counter the prevailing belief that protesting the Iraq War is 'unpatriotic.'"

The key is that war, soldier sentiment, and popular sentiment can be defined much differently in an era where there are more ways than ever to convey the opinions of many "everyday voices." The rhetoric of the History Channel is actually quite appropriate here, in that the accessibility to those voices has changed things tremendously,

Another interesting project mentioned in Lafayette's article is History Uncut, which will feature raw historical data from important moments rather than the most meaningful clips that have most often made it onto television. As with Band of Bloggers, this project will become more resonant simply because there is so much more room on the Internet to provide a great depth of material for those who are interested.