Once a month, I write a post for PBS' Regarding War website.
Having explored many facets of the Vietnam war and veterans experiences, this year PBS started asking people to share how these wars --Iraq and Afghanistan have shaped their lives. Writing for one of the big dogs (or maybe PBS is a medium size dog
trying to get bigger) is always interesting. I've had titles changed for "clickability."
I guess it's natural that we writers should start thinking of our titles in terms of whether or not it has High Click Appeal (HCA).
It's nothing new. Titles are always the beast one wrestles with, sometimes changing it a few times during or after the writing process. There's probably also a list of buzzword stats on clickworthiness
In regards to these wars, I think the name "Afghanistan"
should probably go in the title regardless of what it's about. It could be a recipe for Brownies, and if we turn them into Brownies for Troops in Afghanistan,
this not only has HCA but good karma if you follow through, bake them, and send them off to a platoon in a
lonely outpost. (As you can see, I've added Afghanistan to the title of this post!).
In terms of personal
clickworthiness, George Clooney is clickable, but does he have HCA? Katy Perry has high HCA right now. But step back and ask yourself, do they both have more HCA than say... General Petraeus? I guess it could be said that the HCA of General McChystal was his misfortune. Right now though, I think the person with the most deserved HCA is Medal Of Honor Recipient SSG Sal Giunta. You can read about him in an excerpt of WAR in Stars and Stripes.
Back to PBS. I'm happy that they've also asked my friends Tim Lynch of Free Range International
--one of the most well known bloggers on the ground. A former officer in the US Marines, Tim went over as a contractor to run cash for work programs. Tim has employed thousands of Afghans in projects ranging from sanitation to wiring Jalabad with WiFi at a fraction of the cost of most USAID projects. Tim also gives a no-holds barred critique of the implementation of strategy. It's one of the most important blogs to read. And if you're ever in Jbad, make your way to Tim's Taj Mahal.
In addition, PBS has asked Andrew Lubin, the crusty Marine Combat Reporter
who goes over a few times a year and has the distinct honor of being on a list of journalists who gets to talk to the big guys. Lubin is cut from the mold of old-time journalists who have a trail of broken hearts, barroom brawls, and can probably recite Kipling while being able to turn a sharp phrase. One nice thing about Andrew is that he's a real pro who knows his stuff. He also calls to prod me into pitching stories, and to keep writing. Every writer needs a friend like this. FYI, Andrew's only child Phil is a Marine and has been deployed between Iraq and Afghanistan 5 times.
Rajiv Srinvasan is a recent USMA (West Point) graduate. Don't hold that against him. He's a 1LT in the US Army who just returned from Afghanistan. A Hindu, vegetarian, and yoga-doer, Rajiv has a unique perspective on the culture of Afghanistan, which always made his eponymous blog
so engaging. He's one of the new voices that I think really needs to be encouraged to keep writing. I think it's exciting to find fresh new perspectives.
Anyway, I'm glad to be writing with this crew as well as a few others. The only thing is we need your help. Slowly but surely, we're suggesting changes to the Regarding War
site. But PBS needs to see a few hits rolled its way before they put more resources to keep it going. So if you can, click here, and leave a comment now and then. Tim's book Infidel
is coming out. You can order it on Amazon. It's a selection of photographs of the 2/503 Battle Company, 173rd ABN. The same guys in the film.
You can order it now through Amazon. This book, like WAR and RESTREPO, definitely has HCA.