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Blogging for a better view

By Erica Hill
CNN Headline News

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(CNN) -- If you've never checked out a Web log, or "blog" for short, now may be a good time. Think of blogs as an online journal -- one that is often incredibly vivid.

I began reading blogs on a regular basis when a friend moved to Los Angeles. I missed her daily doses of humor and her insight, so her Web journal was a refreshing link. With each posting, I felt closer to her.

Now, I'm turning to blogs to feel closer to events overseas. Blogs have a way of exposing things no article can. They are not edited. They are not journal entries hidden under lock and key; these are shared with the world.

A Google search for "war blogs" turns up a wealth of sites -- ones representing every political and social point of view. They give a glimpse into people's psyche we rarely saw before the Internet.

But can blogs be trusted? One of the most talked about is that of a man known as "Salam Pax." "Pax" says he is a 29-year-old architect living in Baghdad. Both parts of his nom de plume -- "Salam" and "Pax" -- mean peace, in Arabic and Latin, respectively.

His accounts of the recent bombings, the current state of affairs in the Iraqi capital and his family's reactions offer an incredible view of life in Baghdad. The problem is, no one seems to know if "Pax" is for real. Debate about his real identity rages on the Internet.

Bloggers who work for mainstream press have their own problems. CNN Correspondent Kevin Sites was chronicling his experiences in Iraq until last Friday. According to his Web site, he is "Pausing the war blog, for now."

A CNN spokesman told The New York Times the company believed the blog was a distraction from his reporting duties. But there is still a wealth of information at the Web site, including some amazing pictures -- ones we have not seen many of. A reporter for TIME magazine shut down his blog, too.

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