Journalists...

#1
Right, this isn't the usual rant about how journos are ruining the free world etc

Some members of the site (including myself) often feel aggreieved at the treatment of the armed forces in the press, as well as a range of issues with some of their articles.

However, I would like to suggest that some of this is "free speech", which should not normally be discouraged. A balanced argument is preferred, but people will read and take away from an article what they want to, you can't force something down their throat.

Therefore, this thread can be dedicated to what good you think journalists and the media press have done, as in my mind there is no doubt that they do some good.

Quite right a fuss was kicked up yesterday by the article by Martin Samuel (a sports columist by the way) in the Times, here he came across very anti-forces with a "naive" view on society, the public perception of the armed forces and the culture of "violence" that is apparently inherent in any army (you join the army to kill people, therefore army people are bad people). Yet today there were two articles in the Times which I believe helped put a perspective on these issues. One is written by a journalist that was in Al Amarah in January 2004 and the other is reasonably inciteful.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,172-2041183,00.html
the second does not appear online for some reason, for those with a copy of the paper it is a leading article in letters to the editor, called "being framed"

So basically is all the press against good, honest people, including the armed forces? What are your thoughts on what good they can do and how we may win some of them over to "our side"?
 
#2
"Being framed" did appear online. I made reference at o-silly o'clock this morning to NoTW and The Times not singing off the same hymn sheet. I believe it's in the Times thread?


What took place then has, however, been exaggerated and exploited. It has been presented as if it took place last week and with little sense of the intensity of the moment or of the urgency with which the authorities are conducting their investigation. There has been scant mention that the Army moved in because young, but hardly child-like, Iraqis were out of control — hurling stones and explosive devices, and firing shots — not initially at British forces but the Iraqi police who needed assistance. This discontent was fanned by Moqtada al-Sadr, the extremist cleric.
 
#3
My apologies. However I can not find it anywhere on the Times website at the moment, I spent quite a while looking. If it has become unavailable even with a link from "The Times" thread then I will attempt to insert a copy here, all properly referenced of course...
 
#4
It's worth it Crabby , I imagine terse e-mails were exchanged between The Times and News of the Screws :D
 
#5
Right, for those that didn't buy The Times today, here is the article, it has been removed from the website unfortunately. This appears because the article refers to the al-Jazeera website which is NOT associated with the TV channel. Therefore take some of this article in context, with the al_Jazeera channel appearing to give a less radical view than this website. Here is the link to the apology ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-2042544,00.html )

"The Basra provincial council yesterday suspended relations with the British Army there "until further notice". It may not be long before that further notice expires, but this move is blamed squarely on the video of British soldiers apparently beating Iraqi youths in al-Amarah some two years ago. That same provincial council declared simultaneously that it would not co-operate with a unit of Danish troops until the Government in Copenhagen has apolgogised for the cartoons that have caused offence in the Muslim world suggests there is more than a hint of political posturing in it's position.
In a sense, however, local politicians in Iraq cannot be blamed for wanting to appear aggrieved and active on this issue. The videotape of the incident has been played or reported endlessly in a fashion that was bound to inflame tensions. The supposedly presitgious al-Jazeera network denounced what it called "savagery" and others claimed that this was "Britain's Abu Ghraib". It is no surprise that there are now serious concerns for the safety of army members in Iraq and elsewhere.
This would not, of course, have occurred if the seeming breach in discipline had not happened. What took place now then has, however, been exaggerated and exploited. It has been presented as if it took place last week and with little sense of the intensity of the moment or of the urgency with which the authorities are conducting their investigation. There has been scant mention that the Army moved in because young, but hardly child-like, Iraqis were out of control - hurling stones and explosive devices, and firing shots - not initially at the British forces but the Iraqi police who needed assistance. This discontent was fanned by Moqtada al-Sadr, the extremist cleric.
These caveats and their context has not had much of an airing. On the al-Jazeera website yesterday, for example, the story was laid out under the thoroughly neutral headline: "Another episode in "Iraq War Crimes" series". It sat alongside a chat room hosted by a Dr Kareem entitled "Let's Talk" which featured questions for "debate" including: "Britain will learn a bitter lesson along with the US not only Iraq but in Iran very soon" and "Let Sharon's painful death be the punishment for his crimes!" and "Would you sentence Sharon, Blair or Bush to death?". Sir David Frost, the station's new signing, might wish to be aware of the unsavoury company that he is keeping.
If this incident - which is the sixth, not the 600th, accusation of prisoner abuse to be levelled at British soldiers in Iraq - is what it seems, those concerned will, rightly, be punished. It will have come to light because it was exposed in a British newspaper. It will not be remotely typical of the achievements of the Army in Iraq since 2003. It does not amount to a pattern of "insults and degradation by so-called gentlemen", as al_Jazeera put it, or merit any comparison with "Abu Gharib", in humiliation that, alas, is all too commonplace in the Middle East, thanks to the region's own governments.
Alleged thuggery by eight men in uniform should not be the alibi for an orgy of outrageous distortion. The notion of a comparison between the acts of Saddam Hussein's regime and this alleged misdeed in farcical. The Basra provincial council should not let itself remain swept up in a spurious frenzy. If it does, only innocent Iraqis suffer.

"Being Framed, Leading Articles, The Times 15/02/2006, unknown author"
I will re-emphasise the misleading part of this article with regards to the al-Jazeera comments, there is an obvious and probably unintentional flaw in this article which detracts from it's overall worth.

Other articles worth reading would be those of a columnist called Anatole Kaletsky who wrote two extremely interesting articles, one based mainly on the American religious right, then the second on their reaction to his article and the fundamental differences between their reaction and the reaction of extremist muslims to the cartoons etc ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1061-2020738,00.html and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1061-2031276,00.html )

So, are journalists all bad? I think they can be inciteful, generate debate and contribute to society... responses?
 
#6
Oh TOM was wrong, very naughty and now TOM will be punished with the full force of UK Law and Blur will be only too happy to have the Guilty Barstwards Hung Drawn and Quartered in full view of the World.
Have the ever so rightious Arab press yet tracked down the men who punished POWs from Gulf I and would they not have been happier if TOM had dragged them inside for a shellacking then their own Islamic Forces.
john
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#7
Very thoughtful piece in the current RLC Review by some bright young spark whose blushes I will spare here - Let's call him Lt Kris O'Malley.

Piece entitled " Public Opinion and the Armed Forces" p17 - 20 ....an ecopy can be obtained from the Review Editor at editor@rhqtherlc.org.uk

Extract:
....in conclusion, the relationship that exists between the Armed Forces, the Media and the Government is underpinned by common ground and a common interest: the people,and the need to keep them informed. All three parties must keep this common interest in mind as the base foundation in all their dealings. Military commanders in particular must consistently remind themselves, and their subordinates, of the positive impact of working in partnership with Media representatives and politicians.

However, as with any relationship this three way affiliation continues to evolve ....... decisions relating to the deployment of our Armed Forces are becoming far more complex. There is no template decision-making solution and Commanders must consider every deployment as unique.

....members of today's Armed Forces are operating around the clock in a globally influenced media rich society. Never before has there been such a wealth and variety of information published on such a massive scale at such rapid speed. Every soldier regardless of rank must be educated,informed and prepared to deal with the media, and aware of the potential effects both short and long term. Commanders who fail to adequately prepare their soldiers for this are failing to manage a spiralling risk with complex and disastrous effects. Military leaders must consider the risk of Media transparency in every setting and continuously seek to develop positive solutions to working in partnership with the Media and the Govt of the day in order to satisfy evolving public opinion.
(c) Crown Copyright 2005
Good dit, worth a read in full.

Lee Shaver
 
#8
Those who recall the disasterous performances by 'Major Blimp' type officers in NI during the early days will endorse ....members of today's Armed Forces are operating around the clock in a globally influenced media rich society. Never before has there been such a wealth and variety of information published on such a massive scale at such rapid speed. Every soldier regardless of rank must be educated,informed and prepared to deal with the media, and aware of the potential effects both short and long term. Commanders who fail to adequately prepare their soldiers for this are failing to manage a spiralling risk with complex and disastrous effects. Military leaders must consider the risk of Media transparency in every setting and continuously seek to develop positive solutions to working in partnership with the Media and the Govt of the day in order to satisfy evolving public opinion.
One way or another, journos will follow their own agenda. It is the Army's task to be aware what this may be and to counter anything adverse with full honesty and openness.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#9
For those of you who appreciate a really good, bad, article - try this one, from the Guaruudiaian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1710836,00.html

Extracts:

"The Basra video should lay to rest a scurrilous lie - The smug superiority of the British over their peacekeeping efforts in Iraq is an insult to those of us who live there."

"...ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein's tyrannical regime, abuses and atrocities committed against Iraqi civilians have been a regular, at times daily, occurrence throughout the country, including in Basra. These have been committed by American, British and Iraqi official forces."

"It saddens me that Britain has had a significant hand in every episode that has heaped misery on Iraqis
."

It's only at the end that you notice: "Dr Jasem al-Aqrab is head of organisation for the Iraqi Islamic party in Basra"

This is a leading Ex-Ba'athist organisation, purporting to be pro-Sunni, but mainly a ragtag of ex-Regime 'loyalists'. For more examples of their unbiased handiwork, try www.Albasrah.net.

Oddly, the Guauaurddaain doesn't mention this chap's slightly biased outlook. As for their local support, I don't think that they did that well in the recent elections, especially not in the Basra area!

It's articles like this that stir up hatred of UK forces, at Home more than abroad. I hope that The Guardian has the decency to apologise for this tripe tomorrow - but I very, very much doubt it. Now, who was it a couple of days ago on here saying that this was a decent, unbiased and fair 'paper?

Bollox.
 
#10
Public Opinion and the Armed Forces said:
Every soldier regardless of rank must be educated,informed and prepared to deal with the media, and aware of the potential effects both short and long term.
I am reminded here, of some quotes far too familiar to our predecessors.

Mum and Dad and Grandma and Granddad... said:
Careless talk cost lives.... loose lips sink ships
For almost 3 decades I analysed, evaluated, collated ( sometimes developed and processed) film and video taken in a wide range of operational contexts. Some of thse were taken for intelligence purposes, some for personal reasons and some for operational records.

What never ceased to amaze me was the OPSEC violations that took place on camera. Some of thees come home to roost in books, burglaries of soldiers unoccupied houses, in the media and sometimes in the MUP office in Prijedor.

Sadly, one day someone will be captured and then interrogated and the incident exploited, on the basis of the media recovered from their camera alone. This could be catastrophic in Geopolitical terms, but personally I am more concerned about the impact on that individual's comrades, and worse their immediate relatives and NOK.

Used correctly, a camera can be as potent a weapon as any other on the 1198. Sometimes the camera's range, effect and duration will surpass that of any other weapon in the allied armoury; sadly, it is more frequently used to commit fratricide as opposed to attrition.

During the 1960's highly refined policies and procedures for censorship in the field disappeared from British Military Doctrine. I am not advocating a return to that era.

However. perhaps the time has come to review the carriage and use of cameras on sensitive training and operations. Since the Loughall photos did the rounds of Sussex Arts faculty, we must have accumulated enough lessons learned for quite a meaty Training Needs Analysis?

.. as to "what good journalists have done".. They could help in future training, ( as clearly some would) to point out the pitfalls of negligent discharges with the camera.
 
#11
Well most of our bad publicity is down to our own troops stupidity, I wonder why they feel need to film this incidents and then pass them on to the press. I can understand one mistake by why in Gods name do they keep doing it, can it be they are really that daft. Now if you are a journalist and material like this falls into your hands then you can make a name for your self on just a couple of articles and get world wide coverage and bloody great pay rise, so why blame them.
 

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