Friday, September 15, 2006
Would soldiers talk to 'liberal' Berkeley students?
Entertainers get to see a side of soldiers that civilians rarely see, which is why producer Aliza Nadi and I wanted to follow Hello Dave, a Chicago-based rock band, as they toured American military bases in the Middle East.

We had no idea what to expect, since neither of us had ever set foot on a military base before. But we were given the chance to take the journey, and it paid off.

Because we would be moving from base to base so quickly, we were afraid we wouldn’t have enough time to get anyone to open up to us on camera. We also had a few other strikes against us. Not only were we from the media, but we were students from "liberal" University of California, Berkeley. But this was never a problem.

People were usually surprised to see two women on base who were not in uniform and holding a video camera, but most of the soldiers we met were too young to even remember what Berkeley once meant. We not only got access to six military bases in five Muslim countries over 11 days, but in some small degree, we also got access to the "hearts and minds" of the soldiers serving on them.

(Watch Cerissa and Aliza's film on a rock band's tour of military bases in the Middle East -- 9:49)
Posted By Cerissa Tanner, Berkeley Student: 4:17 PM ET
I already am disgusted by the soldiers "hearts and minds" quote. I can't imagine what direction this film is taking.
Posted By Anonymous Tim DeStefano, Philadelphia PA : 5:26 PM ET
I always wonder why there is a mythological view that soliders and students had a bad relationship during Vietnam, when it's well known thousands of Vietnam Vets participated actively in the antiwar movement? It reminds me of the media myth of the soliders being "spat on" that the Vietnam Vet Jerry Lembcke has refuted very well in a Boston Globe piece:

Posted By Anonymous Fang Di, Minneapolis, MN : 5:30 PM ET
Hi Cerissa-
Two females traveling in the middle east. I am impressed! Looks like you ladies had some fun as well as some "real" experience being journalistic groupies to a rock and roll band. I think you are both on your way to success. It is so cool that you are getting to air your story on 360. You may be the AC's of the future! I am anxious to see your report. Nice going!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 6:52 PM ET
I live next to Berkeley, and I have to say that while the city itself is just as liberal and activist, the school really isn't. It may be rather liberal but not radically activist. Santa Cruz is the social conscience of the UC system.

Anyway, that sounds like a really interesting oppourtunity.

And Tim, I don't get your comment. I doubt the heatrs and minds comment meant anything
Posted By Anonymous katherine al, oakland CA : 7:06 PM ET
Congratulations! What a way to start out your careers in journalism. It must have been so great getting to know the true lives of the troops and seeing what they go through for their country. Good luck with your futures. That was a cool way to get started.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby Ontario Canada : 7:45 PM ET
This truly is a disgusting piece.

The value of america is that each person has the right to their own opinion. As soon as we lose that, we are no different than the 'terrorists' we are supposedly fighting. There are a lot of soldiers against this war too; don't forget their opinions as well.
Posted By Anonymous Brandon Jackson, Seattle, Washington : 8:02 PM ET
Her saying the soldiers are "..too young.." shes saying that they simply don't know about what "...berkely once meant."
They dont share the ideals I value, how odd. Silly ignorant soldiers.

Also, " even remember..."

Gosh, they also don't really think about it!
Posted By Anonymous Ted Coe, Hollywood, CA : 10:27 PM ET
Tim DeStefano, which part is disgusting? As I tell everyone who comments on what we do out here, "don't like it, sign the papers and show us how it's done. Until then, you have no idea what it's really like and shouldn't comment on the matter.

Oddly enough, I am from the Philadelphia area and went to St. Thomas catholic school with someone with your name.
Posted By Anonymous James Cresegiona, Afghanistan : 11:15 PM ET
I think it is great to see a different side of the soldiers. We usually only see them in their combat outfits with guns in their hands and on their way to a secret location. I admire all the soldiers for their bravery and their extraordinary courage. They deserve a free concert every night. Going from a war zone to relaxing beside a cooled pool and watching a rock band, is emotionally rough on them. Watching the reports from the students at University of California, Berkeley only made me gain even more respect for each solider. Stay safe US troops. You are always in our prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Liz Yas Sylvania, OH : 1:06 AM ET
Hey ! "Hello Dave" just mentioned AC360 during a live interview last night on Chicago radio. I would have liked to hear more from Cerissa and Aliza and other Berkl. students about what's being said on college campuses about Afghanistan and Iraq. Is there a part II to this video? xtina

p.s. Not that it matters, but isn't UC Berkeley known for having more conservative student groups now?
Posted By Anonymous xtina - Chicago IL : 1:13 AM ET
Cerissa, after watching Beyond the Front Lines tonight, I was truly impressed with not only your film but with your professional demeanor. I really think that you have both journalistic talent and a strong screen presence!

Keep up the good work. I know we'll be seeing you on the news in the future. Good Job!
Posted By Anonymous Annette LaCanna, Alpha, NJ : 1:47 AM ET
To Tim in PA: What do you mean you were disgusted bye the quote? Most soldiers don't like liberals, because most liberals haven't been in a soldiers boots. In case you don't know, Berkeley was known as a "liberal" schoool.
Posted By Anonymous Nick Mello, Fort Bragg, NC : 3:37 AM ET
I turly hope that this opened your mind and hearts about what the soldiers sailors and airmen that are fighting this war... I am a
Viet Nam Vet, I am over here now as a contractor support the communications effort for all of the troops in Djibouti, I do hope that you will sleep better at night in America knowing that alot of people are out here helping keep the fight off the main shores of America,,, NO matter what your politic are please remember that the troops are just as human as your all are, Fire the politican's but alway care for the Troops,.,,,
God Bless America and God Bless all of the Troops and Civlians that are supporting them in this wars///

Daniel W Jackson
CAmp Lemonier
Posted By Anonymous DAniel W Jackson : 5:02 AM ET
As a Soldier I am interested to see exactly what it is you learned in 11 days. The lives of Soldiers who are deployed cannot truely be summed up in an 11 day visit. There is so much they deal with in the field, and back at home. I want to see just how much you access to their "hearts and minds" you gained. Not to be critical, but to see if it can really be done in 11 days.

Then there is the misconception that all Soldiers are staunch Republicans. I am as liberal as they come, and would probabely fit right in with the liberals at Berkley. In every military unit out there I am sure you will find Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors who disagree with much of what is going on in our government today.

As budding journalists it would be in your best interest to not make assumptions about the people you are covering. You may find you have egg on your face.
Posted By Anonymous Donna, Omaha, NE : 7:54 AM ET
The video seems like a casual insider view of a part of the soldiers' lives ... I did not feel any anti-military vibe from it at all. It's ignorant and iresponsible to jump to conclusions before condemning it. Many soldiers did not join to be warriors, they are normal people who have made life choices out of circumstances. I was in the military and can relate to how the civilian public misinterprets or over-glorifies the image of the military. People need to realize that soldiers are people too (and many of them very young). Its not wrong to show soldiers relaxing or acting a little dorky ... it's nice to see them not under fire or reacting to an IED. The film is not anti-war, it's about the war.
Posted By Anonymous Jack Hernandez, Columbia, MD : 8:36 AM ET
See if you can find the soldiers who don't buy into the lies about Saddam and Al-Quieda being connected. Do your best to talk to troops that think the United States shouldn't be in the business of pushing our beliefs on other groups of people.

Sheesh...what's with the soldier worship these days? I mean, it's not like they're fighting Nazis or anything...just cleaning up the mess made by a half-wit-grade plan to 'depose Saddam and bring democracy'. A mess that didn't even exist until a roundly criticized plan for regime change was enacted.
Posted By Anonymous Sean, Torrington, CT : 9:05 AM ET
Well, this comment applies to the blog as a whole, not this specific entry. I've been enjoying this blog A LOT for the last two months or so, and subscribe to it by RSS feed (into NetNewsWire). Sometime in the last week, your blog format changed so that instead of feeding the full articles to my aggregator, it only feeds the first few sentences (like a lead-in).

Since I use an aggregator to save time, and since clicking in and out of each article is tedious for me, I hope you'll consider going back to your earlier format. I am unlikely to stay subscribed otherwise, simply because I have so many blogs I MUST follow for work that it's hard for me to justify to myself reading an intersting blog that is demanding my click-through.

Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Santa Monica, CA : 2:51 PM ET
Thanks for taking the angle of showing our heros getting some R&R! I'm glad to see they have options and a facility to "let their hair down" and enjoy themselves! Just goes to show that we all need to take a "break" sometime and they surely deserve it!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 4:15 PM ET
Lately the media, CNN in particular, seems to focus a lot of positive attention on the military in the Middle East. I think it's great and I enjoyed watching your segment on 360 this past Friday night. I didn't feel as though there was any "slant" (liberal or otherwise) to your report-it was a wonderful piece of journalism that stayed true to what journalism should be: a realistic view of the world-unbiased and honest. It showed me an aspect of our involvement in the Middle East that I wouldn't have had known about otherwise. Those soldiers are like my friends, my neighbors- they're normal people with one major distinction: incredible courage. I am very grateful for their dedication.

We were introduced to a few new very talented journalists on Friday night. Thanks for sharing your stories.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 10:12 PM ET
Wow Sean, (posted at 9:05 AM ET) when was the last time you risked your life for something you believed in (or even didn't believe in)? These soldiers deserve a LOT of credit. More I'd say than someone sitting at their computer in Torrington CT.
Posted By Anonymous Laura Boston, Ma : 8:12 PM ET
Sean -- As an Airman who has been to the war and back, I think you need a little education. It's not about pushing "our" beliefs on someone else, it's about being able to believe as we want and helping others have that same right. I will assume you've never put your butt on the line for anything bigger than yourself, thus your comment about "soldier worshipping". Just remember it's the soldiers who give you the right to voice your opinion.
Posted By Anonymous Pamela, Germany : 9:15 AM ET
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