Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Media and the Military

One of the great advantages to working within a media outlet is access to the news. One of my favorite daily activities is to rise early in the morning, prepare a cup of coffee, and head off to the newsroom and watch the bank of televisions. The newsroom receives 6-8 media broadcasts at any one time, and one can sit there and watch what all of the major outlets are reporting simultaneously, and the amount and type of coverage that each story is being given. It’s a news junkie’s version of 72 virgins.

Aside from watching news, working around the newsroom affords me the opportunity to watch the people reporting the news as well. One of the most striking things that I’ve witnessed is a lack of understanding of the military, but even more importantly an absence of any effort to seek a better sense of the armed forces. I had believed that journalists always strove to achieve a better understand and perception of key events and situations around them. Is that really the case? In Iraq we are always surrounded by the military, and interact with it almost daily. Selected media often live with the military units for days or weeks during “embed” assignments. How is it possible that journalists can walk away from that experience still not knowing the difference between a platoon and a division, or a corporal and a captain?

Every soldier, sailor or marine that may potentially come in contact with the media is given extensive classes on how to interact with the media. These are not courses that teach members how to say, “no comment”, or “I can’t talk about that”, but rather how to be open and honest with he media and to better understand the world in which journalists live. I wonder if there is a similar course for journalists?

No comments: