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From the editor: A return to Afghanistan

From the editor: A return to Afghanistan

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This new column is designed to offer behind-the-scene insights into the news coverage of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the many talented journalists dedicated to informing readers in our print and online publications.

Today, the Post-Dispatch begins a continuing news series that shows a firsthand account of the 1138th Engineer Company of the Missouri National Guard, which is deployed in a risky assignment to clear deadly roadside bombs along the military supply and infantry routes in southern Afghanistan.

The Post-Dispatch newsroom devotes most of its resources to local reporting or localizing news from outside our region to make it relevant to readers.

The United States has stated its plan to withdraw most troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, yet thousands of American soldiers continue to work in extremely dangerous circumstances, a situation that often gets overshadowed by domestic issues.

Post-Dispatch editors believe the move to an eventual withdrawal is a significant story to tell through the Missouri National Guard soldiers who have temporarily left civilian jobs in the St. Louis area and eastern Missouri. Their sacrifice and commitment usually don’t garner headlines unless tragedy strikes.

The Post-Dispatch assigned two top-notch, veteran journalists to embed with the Missouri National Guard and tell of their military and personal lives. It is important to remind readers about their risks and contributions that make a distant war closer to home and more human.

The reporting team in Afghanistan accepted the complexity and risks of this assignment. Their desire is to bring home an international story to our readers in the heartland.

Jesse Bogan, a Missouri native, is a general assignment reporter on the metro desk who embedded with the Texas Army National Guard in 2005 in Iraq. Bogan also was based in Mexico for the San Antonio Express-News. He joined the Post-Dispatch in 2010.

Photographer J.B. Forbes has worked at the Post-Dispatch since 1975 and serves as chief photographer. He has covered stories — including the war in Iraq and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti — from 30 countries

Forbes, a native of Prairie Village, Kan., has won many awards and was inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame in 2011.

Bogan and Forbes are documenting the 1138th through a series of stories, photographs and videos that illustrate how area people serve in a dangerous place abroad. They are aware of the inherent risks, but believe that these stories need to be told.

Editors coordinating the coverage in the newspaper and online on STLtoday.com are assistant metro editor Matt Franck, photo editor Lynden Steele, deputy managing editors Adam Goodman and Bob Rose and presentation director Santiago Carlos Ayulo.

This column strives to explain and showcase the work of the largest, most comprehensive news organization in our region. We believe a vigorous news organization is vital to our community fabric, whether the stories originate in Kirkwood or Kandahar.

The Post-Dispatch newsroom rallied recently to provide unmatched coverage of the death of Cardinals legend Stan Musial, an effort that included extensive daily coverage online and in print, including two special sections, the first one delivered hours after his death.

We believe that such excellent journalism strengthens our communities. We hope this behind-the-curtain column will explain how and why our journalists are committed to that role.

Related to this story

We follow 90 members of the Missouri National Guard in the midst of a nine-month deployment performing one of the riskiest jobs in Afghanistan

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