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Balazs Gardi in Afghanistan, video portraits of First Battalion, Eighth Marines

Basetrack: One-Eight is a Knight News Challenge–winning media experiment that followed 1/8 – First Battalion, Eighth Marines, throughout their entire deployment in Afghanistan’s war-torn southern deserts from 2010 to 2011. After working in the region for a decade I joined a small team of embedded mobile media operators transmitting reports and reflections from the battalion’s area of operations. Basetrack connected over a thousand Marines and Corpsmen to their families as well as the broader public to the longest war in US history. This project aimed not only to create a media platform built specifically to support and facilitate independent journalism but also to set a trend by showing alternative ways to mainstream commercial media.

Basetrack is still tracking the news from the region.

Basetrack’s forward team was supported by a network of technologists, analysts, artists, and journalists, working around the clock, from around the world, to connect over a thousand Marines and Corpsmen to their families, and to connect a broader public to the longest war in US history.

Basetrack is a non-profit initiative, operated by November Eleven, a US-based, 501(c)3 public charity. It takes an open-source approach to journalism, making its original content freely available for non-commercial use under Creative Commons licensing protocols, and employing open, ubiquitous social media platforms to distribute its reporting, and to engage public participation in the reporting process. A free, downloadable, WordPress-based “Basetrack system” will be made available to the public for use in future media projects.


Gardi believes that only honest attention wins the trust and reaches the real emotions and personal stories of people entangled in such life-threatening situations. He uses this approach to identify early symptoms of catastrophes before they develop into sensational news stories or gain widespread attention.

Gardi spent two years following how the Roma (Gypsy) minorities trying to deal with their growing poverty, declining social status and appalling living conditions in a dozen Eastern European countries. He has traveled regularly to Afghanistan and Pakistan to document life in a region in a state of insecurity and a downward spiral that is dragging these countries back to open warfare.

In recent years, his attention has gradually turned to reporting the local harbingers of the global water crisis. This has evolved into “Facing Water Crisis,” his most ambitious photography project to date. It features an expanding series of individual stories about the most life-threatening environmental crisis mankind has ever faced, covering numerous heavily affected regions around the world.


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