A warblog or milblog is a weblog devoted mostly or wholly to covering news events concerning an ongoing war. Sometimes the use of the term "warblog" implies that the blog concerned has a pro-war slant. The use of the term "milblog" implies that the author is with the military.
The coinage 'warblog' is attributed to Matt Welch, who started his War Blog within days of the September 11 attacks. In the fall of 2001, the attacks gave rise to the warblog movement, which favoured political punditry over the often personal and technological orientation that had dominated the blog genre up to that point, achieving much greater public and media recognition than earlier blogs. Most warblogs supported the US-led War in Afghanistan (2001–14) and the Iraq War (2003–11) from a hawkish perspective.
Warblogging was popularized by Glenn Reynolds, whose Instapundit was one of the most popular political blogs on the web. Some prominent warblogs, such as Little Green Footballs by Charles Johnson existed before September 11, but made the war on terror their primary focus afterwards.
The readership of warblogs dramatically increased in March 2003, following the the U.S. invasion of Iraq, with readers chiefly attracted by the offer of perspectives absent from most news reports; the pseudonymous Salam Pax, an Iraqi national posting first-hand accounts from Baghdad, emerged as a prominent war blogger. Media organisations that started their own reporters' warblog at this point included the BBC, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Most blogs that gained popularity as "warblogs" expanded their focus to politics and general news, usually from a right-of-center perspective, yet continued to be commonly known as warblogs. While warblogs arose in response to the post-September-11 wars and mostly limited their commentary to them, some moved on to related political, social and cultural issues and continued after the end of the wars. Likewise, blogs that ordinarily cover non-war issues may dedicate their coverage during a time of war to the conflict, with some reverting to their previous missions at the end of the war, and others retaining their new character.
The term "MilBlog" was coined by JP of Milblogging.com, during his combat tour in Iraq. It describes a blog primarily focused on the events of the military, written about by those with inside knowledge of the military, whether an active soldier, a veteran of the military, a spouse of a soldier, or a civilian with a special connection to the military.
Milblogs often criticize the media coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, seeking to correct the story. Thus, Matt Burden of Blackfive.net cites as the rationale of his blog the death in combat of a fellow soldier and good friend of his, who died saving the live of a magazine reporter, yet had his death go unreported by the magazine. One milblogger chose to offer his site "as an educational service to the American People who wish to know the true story of Iraq and Afghanistan." Other milblogs cite similar intentions to report the news that they did not feel the mainstream media was reporting.
C.J. Grisham was among the first active duty soldiers to become a milblogger when he opened A Soldier's Perspective in December 2004. Within five years, ASP was receiving an average of 1,500 visitors per day (nearly 1 million in total) from over 120 countries and was ranked the second most popular site on Milblogging.com.
In 2005, there were fewer than 200 "milblogs" in existence. In July 2011, Milblogging.com listed more than 3,000 military blogs in 46 countries. The top 5 locations were US, Iraq, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
Response by U.S. Military
The U.S. Department of Defense has taken notice of the growing trend of "warblogging" and has begun to monitor warblogs. They have established a team consisting of ten Virginia National Guard personnel to routinely monitor the online activities of U.S. servicemen and -women, including warblogs and the posting of war videos and photos. Some warbloggers have pre-emptively taken their blogs down out of a fear of potential reprisals from their chain of command.
Alhough the U.S. Department of Defense was initially concerned about milblogs as a potential OPSEC violation, it eventually embraced the concept and attempted to implement official versions of milblogs. Official milblogs did not receive the same reception or popularity of the unofficial milblogs as they were written in the same dull language as other official publications of the Defense Department.
Many milbloggers found it difficult to translate their wartime stories into their non-combat voice, but as one milblog fell silent, ten more popped up. Of the ten soldiers that returned, one would find relevance in home country reporting. Many of those that maintained their sites upon return, turned to the politics of National Defense and Veterans Affairs. Others directly addressed cases of "Stolen Valor" and the anti-war movement.[better source needed]
Citizen authored milblogs often did not have this issue, where the focus was solely on the reporting of a particular aspect of the military, such as the Navy.
Many warblogs became a focus of attention for frequently updated information related to the election during the 2004 campaign. Others, however, note that the warblogs' level of focus on the war remains a distinguishing feature, and separates them from blogs whose political coverage is mostly domestic in nature.
Blogging has also extended to people living in current or potential combat zones, with the growth of blogs by Iraqis, Afghans, and especially Iranian blogs in English. While these are not warblogs, there have been longstanding ties, including encouragement and material support of these activities by warbloggers; and warblog readers have often contributed a significant proportion of their English language audiences.
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