Journalists often become close to their sources. It’s a relationship that is at once intimate and detached: professional boundaries are drawn, but shared experiences often blur the lines.

When Los Angeles Times photojournalist Luis Sinco snapped a photograph of Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller during the Battle of Fallouja—covered in ash and war paint, propped up against a wall, smoking a cigarette— their lives became forever linked.

The shot of Miller became an iconic image of the Iraq war: “The Marlboro Marine.” Americans connected with the photograph so much that Miller was immediately sent home because, as his superior told him, “nobody wanted to see him wounded or dead.”

Sinco didn’t expect to ever see Miller again. But a year and a half later, back in the U.S., Sinco learned that Miller was kicked out of the Marines for a violent episode because of PTSD. Sinco decided to pay him a visit.

A moving video journal by Luis Sinco on MediaStorm, a multimedia journalism project sponsored by, tells the story of Miller’s struggle to heal his scars of war, and of Sinco’s struggle to determine his role in the process—was he a journalist, helper, or friend?

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Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist,, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour,, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.