Wednesday, August 21, 2013

These South Carolina journalists are headed to Syria to cover a civil war

David Axe and Thomas Hammond will report from one the world's bloodiest conflict zones

Posted by Corey Hutchins on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 12:52 PM

They weren't alive in 1865, but two South Carolina journalists might get to cover a civil war after all. 

Veteran Palmetto State war correspondent David Axe and photographer Thomas Hammond, both of Columbia, are heading to the bloody conflict zone of Syria this fall to report on the nation's escalating uprising. The civil war there has claimed up to 5,000 lives per month since 2011, according to the United Nations. The violence stems from clashes between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters who want to depose him. Contributing to the body count reportedly has been the use of deadly chemical weapons.

Whether the two South Carolina journalists actually make it across the border into the war-torn country remains to be seen.

“We'll start in one of the neighboring countries -- either Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan -- and cross the border if and when it's possible,” Axe says. “We're going because the Syria war has claimed 100,000 lives in two years, making it one of the bloodiest conflicts in the past two decades. It's a big deal for the whole world.”

Axe, 35, and the author of the 2010 graphic novel War is Boring, is no stranger to danger zones. He's reported from the Middle East and the Congo, among others, and chased Somali pirates in the open seas. (He also co-wrote a graphic novel with me last year about the bizarre 2010 U.S. Senate candidacy of Alvin Greene, but that was a different sort of disaster.) 

Hammond, a 29-year-old freelance photographer for the Columbia-based alt-weekly Free Times, will be busting his war-reporting cherry on the Syria trip. The two expect to head out in the next couple months, but their timing will depend on the situation on the ground there.

In the meantime they've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund expenses. The rest of their funding will come from Medium, a new online platform for long-form writing where Axe is the outlet's national security collections editor.

“What I hope we're going to do is bring a different humanity to this coverage; to tell the Syrian's stories in a way … to reach busy, distracted Americans,” Axe says in the Kickstarter video. “We need photos. We need that stark proof: these are people just like you.”

Traveling with the journalists will be what Axe described as a small army of interpreters, fixers, and drivers.

“Those are the things that will make the difference between us going and doing this work, hopefully making a difference, and getting home safely,” he said in the video. “Or not.”

View their Kickstarter pitch below:

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