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Blogging From the Front Lines

Bloggers are giddily recommending the work of blogger-in-Iraq Michael Yon. Sports fans are considering a Sports Illustrated column denouncing fantasy sports, while moviegoers look at a New York Times story on Hollywood’s summer slump.

Blogging from the front lines:A new post by independent journo-blogger Michael Yon, reporting from Iraq,has elicited great praise among bloggers dissatisfied with war coverage in the mainstream media. Yon’s Online Magazine, launched in January, combines detailed, intimate storytelling with an authorial sense that the war is neither quagmire nor farce, but a heroic, Manichaean struggle—and, as such, deserves to be reported in the grizzled, noirish style of war reportage from earlier eras. 

“Although the situation in Mosul is better, our troops still fight here every day. This may not be the war some folks had in mind a few years ago. But once the shooting starts, a plan is just a guess in a party dress,” Yon writes in the latest post, which details an urban raid involving hand-to-hand combat. The commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, was shot in the operation. “Make no mistake about Kurilla—he’s a warrior, always at the front of the charge,” Yon wrote in another post. “But it’s that battle-hardened bravery that makes him the kind of leader that Americans admire and Iraqis respect. Like the soldiers of Deuce Four, Iraqis have seen too much war to believe in fairy tales. They know true warriors bleed.”

“Do you read Michael Yon?” asks the Caltechgirl behind Not Exactly Rocket Science. “If you don’t you should. This is a story I’m sure you won’t read anywhere else. And every man in it is a hero, except the terrorist scumbags.” Count conservative nabob Michelle Malkin among the faithful. “If there were Pulitzers for blog reporting,” she declares, “Michael Yon would win hands down.”

Many observers chase their praise with blogger triumphalism. “Thank goodness for the blogosphere,” applaudsInstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, “as you won’t see this kind of reporting anywhere else.” At the Jawa Report, Demosophist agrees the Online Magazine outshines the efforts of the established media. Pointing to a photo of a bloody, injured insurgent, he writes, “These are the kinds of images we need to see more of out of Iraq.”

“I’m late to this party; I’ve been hearing about Michael Yon for a while, but haven’t taken the time to check him out, until now,” writes John Hinderaker at conservative outfit PowerLine. “It’s all true: his reporting is immediate, direct, eloquent. In a sane world, every major newspaper in America would be clamoring to publish his stuff. But almost every major newspaper in America is committed to the proposition that we aren’t really in a war, so they aren’t interested. You just can’t get reporting like Yon’s unless you seek it out on the web. Please do!”

Read more about Michael Yon.

Are fantasy games sports sacrilege?: “I’m about to commit treason, heresy and other various forms of slander in the eyes of the nation’s rabid NFL fans,” warnsSports Illustrated columnist Dan George in a 10-point grievance. “I hate fantasy football.”

“As usual with a ‘ten reasons’ column, there’s one compelling reason but a whole lot of fatuous dreck,” says Matt Bruce at Fancy Store-Bought Dirt, who nevertheless grants George his complaint that playing fantasy sports changes the way fans watch games. The Mighty MJD is particularly troubled by the way fantasy sports divide fan loyalty. “I’m not saying you can’t root for your fantasy team,” he says. “But if you’re a football fan, and if you’re a man, your love for your team comes first, and there shouldn’t even be a thought about it.”

Others think less of the fantasy threat. “I’ve wondered lately if Fantasy Football is here to say, or if it is doomed to suffer the fate of the hoolahoop,” writes Kansas Jayhawk Jeremy Chrysler at Phog Blog. “My guess is that its growth is just leveling out.”

Read more about the Sports Illustrated column and more about fantasy football.

Dog days of summer: Hollywood executives are beginning to look inward, toward marketing and product quality, to explain this summer’s extended box-office slump, reports the New York Times. “Audiences have gotten smart to the marketing,” says Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton, “and they can smell the good ones from the bad ones at a distance.”

Writer and self-described technologist Darren Barefoot thinks the slump testifies to a major shift in the way Americans entertain themselves. “I predict that our grandchildren will look at the cinema the way we look at opera and ballet,” he writes. At Irish roundtable The Community At Large, Danger sees a certain maturity in the analysis, by producers, that the quality of recent movies—as much as piracy and file-sharing—has produced the downturn.

At the American Prospect’s liberal clubhouse TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta writes that the growth of pre-movie advertising “has made the experience of going to a movie theater somewhat akin to going to a post–September 11 airport, where the actual take-off time is padded on one end by the need to arrive early and go through security and on the other by on-tarmac delays.” Franke-Ruta also suggests that ubiquitous celebrity journalism might hurt ticket sales by complicating our suspension of disbelief.

Read more about the slump.