Mike Boettcher had no problem finding stories to tell in Iraq. Getting the information out was a different matter. Boettcher, a Ponca City native and University of Oklahoma graduate, gave up his job as a network war correspondent because he wanted to tell soldiers’ stories in a new way.
Mike Boettcher, 54, and his son, Carlos Boettcher, 22, left for Iraq last summer with the idea of embedding with troops and telling their stories in a way that wasn’t making the nightly news. After learning some harsh lessons about how much work it would be to get those stories home, Boettcher is giving it another try, this time in Afghanistan and with the help of The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Mike and Carlos Boettcher will spend the next several months getting up close and personal with American troops in Afghanistan, posting blogs, video and photos on "On the Line,” a new Web site that’s been developed by NewsOK.com. It’s at NewsOK.com/ontheline. "Our problem when we initially got there was not access to the troops and getting the material,” Mike Boettcher said. "We had hundreds of hours of video and thousands of photos. It was getting it delivered and trying to do a Web site ourselves.” Sending a simple e-mail could often take half an hour using available Internet connections in Iraq. So Mike Boettcher flew home, leaving his son in Iraq, to find a better way. Boettcher, who worked for 30 years as a correspondent for NBC and CNN, said he was accustomed to having an army of supporting staff to worry about the technical side. "It was a million times harder than I thought it was going to be,” Boettcher said.