Michael Yon is an independent journalist who has spent the last several years reporting literally "on the ground" from Iraq, the Philippines, and currently from Afghanistan. He started out paying his own way, and is now funded entirely by the support of his readers. He isn't affiliated with any newspaper or network - he is also his own editor and photographer. Go check out his work, and get some "ground truth." Writing is seldom more powerful than this.
His latest dispatch: Precision Voting