Boot camp for unfit hacks?

#1
Has anyone read the first article on p.4 of the most recent Private Eye?

British army bosses are considering a boot camp for journalists hoping to report from Afghanistan after a disasterous visit by a group of Scottish hacks

The article basically says that these journalists were woefully unprepared and incapable of keeping up with the action in the awful conditions. It goes on to say that they were a liability and put (already overstretched) soldiers' lives on the line by needing to be rescued.
 
#2
bensonby said:
Has anyone read the first article on p.4 of the most recent Private Eye?

British army bosses are considering a boot camp for journalists hoping to report from Afghanistan after a disasterous visit by a group of Scottish hacks

The article basically says that these journalists were woefully unprepared and incapable of keeping up with the action in the awful conditions. It goes on to say that they were a liability and put (already overstretched) soldiers' lives on the line by needing to be rescued.
I think that's a damned good idea. Journos don't realise that even being on an embed means that somebody has to watch their backs, rather than their mate's and it is very difficult to prepare for the harsh conditions that regulars and reservists work in 24/7 after a heavy lunch.

I speak from grovelling experience. I split a 42 Commando patrol in two in the 'Stan because I simply couldn't keep up with them after several bomb-burst sprints.

I don't think the press has a clue how much they compromise the safety of the units they are with just by being there.

The 'hostile environment' training given to journalists is designed purely to protect hacks and doesn't even consider the possibility that they might be putting other people's lives at risk.
 
#3
Sounds like a good plan if you ask me. Couldn't do any harm!
 
#5
I reckon they should have to do the training for the unit they want to embed with, so if they want to go with 3 Cdo Bde, they have to pass All-Arms commando course :twisted:
 
#7
theprior said:
...and I'm quite sure the supply of volunteers to beast Journos would be endless ;)
No shortage of volunteers to beast journos. Trouble is they have their hands tied by H & S.

Bottom line is that journos are civvies (most of 'em anyway - there are a few reservists).

Bradstyley, any thought that they would be able to pass the All-Arms commando course is, sadly, hysterical and wrong.

But they should be taught some basics:

1/. Do not stand up and skyline a unit to get a better photo (shape, silhouette, etc, etc)

2/. Do not talk to someone while they are receiving a radio message.

3/. Do not ask a section or multiple to stop while you interview a local chappie.

4/. A BIGGIE, this one. Always make sure pouches / bags are zipped up in case you need to move at speed. Soldiers are unlikely to stop to pick up your kit for you.

5/. Do not fill your camelpack with vodka.

6/. If you're with the booties - don't ask them what instrument they play.

The list is endless.
 
B

blindfire

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#8
King_of_the_Burpas said:
theprior said:
...and I'm quite sure the supply of volunteers to beast Journos would be endless ;)
No shortage of volunteers to beast journos. Trouble is they have their hands tied by H & S.

Bottom line is that journos are civvies (most of 'em anyway - there are a few reservists).

Bradstyley, any thought that they would be able to pass the All-Arms commando course is, sadly, hysterical and wrong.

But they should be taught some basics:

1/. Do not stand up and skyline a unit to get a better photo (shape, silhouette, etc, etc)

2/. Do not talk to someone while they are receiving a radio message.

3/. Do not ask a section or multiple to stop while you interview a local chappie.

4/. A BIGGIE, this one. Always make sure pouches / bags are zipped up in case you need to move at speed. Soldiers are unlikely to stop to pick up your kit for you.

5/. Do not fill your camelpack with vodka.

6/. If you're with the booties - don't ask them what instrument they play.

The list is endless.
I find whisky is better :D
 
#9
I do find the notion that these people are a liability shocking and disgusting...
 
#10
King_of_the_Burpas said:
Bradstyley, any thought that they would be able to pass the All-Arms commando course is, sadly, hysterical and wrong.
Though I realise this is true for the majority of journalist my mind immediately sprung to Chris Terrill (Commando: On The Front Line)

If all journalists did this then there wouldn't be a problem however since they're few and far between I would say this is a good idea.

Edd
 
#11
bensonby said:
I do find the notion that these people are a liability shocking and disgusting...
How so, bensonby? Shocking because they ARE a liability or shocking because the notion that they are a liability is false? Or something like that.
 
#12
Make them pass a variety of tests before they go out into theatre, this way the army does not get bogged down in training and stuff like that.

Journos turn up for selection and get binned as the course progresses

1. Fitness
2. First Aid
3. bit of basic military skills
4. chemical protection etc
5. a BFT and CFT |(carrying there camera kit) etc
 
#13
King_of_the_Burpas said:
bensonby said:
I do find the notion that these people are a liability shocking and disgusting...
How so, bensonby? Shocking because they ARE a liability or shocking because the notion that they are a liability is false? Or something like that.
shocking that they ARE a liabilty because they are not there to get in the way - and therfore risk soldiers lives. If they get in the way then they should booger off.
 
#14
The_Rattler said:
Make them pass a variety of tests before they go out into theatre, this way the army does not get bogged down in training and stuff like that.

Journos turn up for selection and get binned as the course progresses

1. Fitness
2. First Aid
3. bit of basic military skills
4. chemical protection etc
5. a BFT and CFT |(carrying there camera kit) etc
Fitness - a non-starter, IMHO

First Aid - they do offer 'BatFat', battlefield first aid, which amounts to packing injuries with the first field dressings issued. There's not much training about what to do after that. The presumption is that you're on your own.

Basic mil skills - poor, really. Mine-awareness, yes, but keeping in touch with the unit you are with is somerthing you learn on the job.

CBRN - yes. Hacks are given respirators and are taught how to put them on. There's virtually no training in how to recognise a chem attack.

Not sure about the carrying stuff.

The point is that the training assumes that you are on your own or with a small party of other hacks. There is no time to teach potential embeds about how they will fit in with a military unit - how to recognise comms and tactics.
 
#15
The_Rattler said:
Make them pass a variety of tests before they go out into theatre, this way the army does not get bogged down in training and stuff like that.

Journos turn up for selection and get binned as the course progresses

1. Fitness
2. First Aid
3. bit of basic military skills
4. chemical protection etc
5. a BFT and CFT |(carrying there camera kit) etc
agreed.
 
#16
Agree with bensonby up to a point and Chris Terrill was an exception to the rule -and a good one. But there's a central problem here.

The closer hacks get to the military, either by training with them or becoming reservists themselves so at least they don't fcuk everything up completely, the more suspect they are when it comes to getting ideas commissioned.

It seems like sod the obvious safety implications - if you spend too much time with The Green (or the Pebble Dash) then you are suspect; you have gone native, you are no longer 'independent'.

You can hear the argument on the satphone:

EDITOR 'Why didn't you interview the intelligence asset that the RMs were hooking up with on that patrol?'
HACK 'He saw my camera and buggered off, thus rendering the whole patrol a waste of time'. TRUE STORY THIS.

Another:

EDITOR: 'You interviewed the translator Abdul xxxx' Can we have a photo of him for the website?'.

There are exceptions: Christina Lamb (a bit tasty too) and the photographer, Justin Sutcliffe, but I would say in general, hacks are definitely not prepared for the rigours of embedding with the armed forces.

I suspect that with time the MoD will put much more effort into using its own camera teams and radio bods rather than letting civvies loose among people who have too much too do already watching their own backs.

Edited for poor syntax
 

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