Media 0 Army 1?

#1
This is one American’s view of the problems that exist between their media and their forces. Given the obvious ‘translation’ into our ways of doing things, does it go towards explaining the similar situation here?
Our colleagues across the pond might comment on how they see this as correctly representing the military/media relationships.
Soldiers And Reporters
By A Well-Known Traitor
http://www.fredoneverything.net/FOE_Frame_Column.htm
November 29, 2005
Much email comes my way, from military folk both current and retired, assuring me that the press consists of leftist commy anti-American liberal tree-hugging cowardly backstabbers who probably like the French and would date Jane Fonda. It is an old song. Having spent decades covering the armed forces, I have seen much of the Pentagon and the press. Things are a tad more complex. A few thoughts:
The military, particularly the officer corps, wants not reporting but cheerleading. The very idea of an uncontrolled press is repugnant. Thus officers try to keep reporters away from enlisted men, who are less political and tend to say things that, while true, are not policy. Thus the edgy, wary hostility in the presence of reporters. The truth of what a reporter writes doesn’t matter to them, only whether it is “positive.”
The reasons for this sensitivity are in part practical, given that wars cannot long be fought without the support of the public. There are deeper reasons. First, there is the military’s stark with-us-or-against-us outlook. Second, the intense loyalty to the group that characterizes military men. Third, an authoritarian structure to which reporters seem an uncontrolled rabble. “Uncontrolled” is the key word.
The military believes that the press should be part of the team. Its job should be not to report but to support. “Are they Americans, or aren’t they?” To see what the command thinks the press should be, read a base newspaper. It will be a cross between a PR handout and a Weekly Reader.
Reporters do not see their job as cheerleading, this being the work of PR people, whom they despise. Correspondents by nature are not team players but salaried freelances who compete with, instead of cooperating with, their colleagues. Glory hounds, they want to break the big story themselves. Instead of being loyal to any group, they are suspicious of all groups. They do not respect authority. Frequently incompetent, they are pushy, demanding, and irritating. The military is afraid of them. You hate what you fear.
In short, they are everything the military detests. If they did their jobs perfectly, which neither they nor soldiers do, the military would still loathe them.
Further, soldiers with exceptions are insular, reporters greatly less so. Consider. A kid who goes to West Point lives for four years, in formative late adolescence, with relentless military indoctrination. This is not in all respects bad. It tends to produce a personally honest, public-spirited, responsible man who makes an admirable citizen. These same men can run a carrier battle group, as difficult and impressive a thing as I have ever seen done, and they can do it only because they obey, make sacrifices, and respect the group.
The young cadet then goes to Fort Hood, say, for three years in which he is almost exclusively in the company of other soldiers. Next, three years in an armored division in Germany (the rotations may have changed) during which he is again constantly with soldiers and, since GIs don’t learn languages, unable to communicate with Germans other than bartenders. The Army is his entire existence. By the time he is thirty he is deeply imbued with a bird-politics leftwing vs. rightwing view of things. He is by no means stupid—the academies get bright students—but he is simple-minded. He believes profoundly that one is either on the team or one is with the enemy.
Reporters aren’t on the team. They report what they see, or think they see. Many do not know what they are talking about, but the military detests even more those who do. In time of war, truthfulness makes them traitors. Soldiers often use the word, and they mean it. You are with us, or you are with the enemy.
The two groups live in sharply differing mental worlds. While reporters are more insular than they should be, they are much less so than the military. They see a broader slice of the world and rub shoulders with more kinds of people. The overseas correspondents see more wars than do soldiers. The result is a certain cosmopolitanism which, whether good or bad, is much at odds with the clarity of the military’s outlook.
For example, many in Washington who actually know how the press works (the military actually doesn’t) believe that the press supports the war in Iraq, has until recently given the White House a free ride, and has been adroitly controlled by the government. I agree. If newspapers had been against the war, they would have published countless photos of gut-shot soldiers who will never get a date, paraplegics doomed to a life on a slab, and more Abu Ghraib photos (which they have.) Soldiers don’t know this. In any event, anything but unqualified support is treason.
The military usually regards journalists as cowards. (“Coward” and “traitor” are their gravest pejoratives.) This is questionable. When the 2000th US soldier died in Iraq, I checked the site of Reporters Without Borders and found that 72 reporters had been killed there (with two more missing), or 3.6 percent of the military total. I don’t know how many troops have served in Iraq. Just now it is about 160,000. To be conservative, let’s call it 130,000 on average, making 347,100 for two and two-thirds years of war. By the equation 2,000/347,000 = 72/x, one finds that there would have to have been 12,500 reporters in Iraq to have equal rates of death between reporters and soldiers. Otherwise, the press is taking casualties at a higher rate than the military. The calculation is rough, but makes the point.
Further, reporters can leave any time they choose. The government forces soldiers to fight under penalty of long jail sentences and, in many times and places, death. If you dispute this, tell the troops that they can fly home tomorrow without punishment and see how many remain. They would not leave from cowardice, but from lack of a stake in the outcome. (Would you leave your children fatherless because you wanted democracy in Iraq?)
More than most professions, the military lives in a world defined by idealism. Being a dentist does not carry an ideology with it. Being a soldier does. The dedicated soldier thinks in terms of honor, valor, loyalty, sacrifice, and heroism, of righting wrong and defeating evil, of proving himself in combat, of glory and exaltation and defending the fatherland. The reporter sees the dead lying in the street, the flies crawling in shattered craniums, the bombed-out cities for year after year without change. He hears this described as progress. To him it is pure bullshit.
Maybe, maybe not. But it is how he thinks.
Journalists are not idealists. Cynical, weary of being lied to, having seen the fraud and self-interest that underlie, as they come to see it, almost everything, they regard the soldiery as a riverboat gambler might regard the Boy Scouts. The soldiery regard the press as a Boy Scout might regard a riverboat gambler. Different mental worlds.

Ambiguity disturbs soldiers. Few of us can kill and die for ifs and maybes and on-the-one-hand. Thus every war is described in apocalyptic terms, whether Vietnam, Granada, Korea, or Iraq: We must defeat them there or we’ll have to fight them in California. Usually this is nonsense. Journalists may suggest as much. And so, again, they become traitors.
The moral ambiguity of war is especially painful. While military men as citizens are at least as moral as the rest of the population, as warriors they are not, and can’t be. Because of this conflict they therefore have to believe things about themselves that are not true. Consequently you may hear a soldier saying with perfectly sincerity that the US military goes to great lengths to avoid killing civilians. Furious accusation of treason arise when reporters point out that they are in fact killing civilians.
For example, while a case can be made that the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were militarily desirable, they cannot well be described as attempts to preserve civilians. The bombings of cities in WWII were intended to kill civilians, hundreds of thousands of them, to break morale. In war utility invariably trumps decency.
Reporters, being traitorous, will write of these things. After initial cheerleading while the war goes well, they will note that it isn’t going well any longer. Soldiers, who are being killed and mangled, come to hate them, seldom distinguishing between being against a war and being against the troops. After the hell of combat, who wants to hear that maybe it wasn’t really a good idea after all?
On and on it goes.
 
#2
Ever heard of cut and paste?

It's a simple tool that allows you to highlight the important facts in a terminally long document.
 
#3
I would say that most of the posters here feel closer to the cynicism of the reporters than to the idealism of the American officers. I would also think that the British can make the distinction between reporting that is true but not "good news" and plain bad reporting.
 
#4
roseandpose said:
Ever heard of cut and paste?

It's a simple tool that allows you to highlight the important facts in a terminally long document.
You sarcastic little tw@t - ever heard of scan reading or do you need everything neatly laid on a plate for you. Go and get a brain and re-show - knob.

RedCap, thanks, that was an interesting article and well worth the read.
 
#5
Gonzo said:
roseandpose said:
Ever heard of cut and paste?

It's a simple tool that allows you to highlight the important facts in a terminally long document.
You sarcastic little tw@t - ever heard of scan reading or do you need everything neatly laid on a plate for you. Go and get a brain and re-show - knob.

RedCap, thanks, that was an interesting article and well worth the read.
Angry! Gonzo has a point though, no-one MADE you read the whole document! Good article
 
#6
Gonzo said:
roseandpose said:
Ever heard of cut and paste?

It's a simple tool that allows you to highlight the important facts in a terminally long document.
You sarcastic little tw@t - ever heard of scan reading or do you need everything neatly laid on a plate for you. Go and get a brain and re-show - knob.

RedCap, thanks, that was an interesting article and well worth the read.
Repeated for effect. Thanks ORC.
 
#7
That article is everything that is wrong with American Journalism. It doesn't argue a point, it spoon feeds it to you.

Everything is black and white, and everyone is a stereotype. There is a large amount of opinion here. He's yet to quote anyone to back up his opinions as well.

Every soldier is either a poorly educated, ignorant grunt, or and intelligent but utterly indoctrinated, press hating officer:

The military, particularly the officer corps, wants not reporting but cheerleading
since GIs don’t learn languages
By the time he is thirty he is deeply imbued with a bird-politics leftwing vs. rightwing view of things
but he is simple-minded
Whilst every journo is either prepared to stab his/her mates in the back to get that Pulitzer nomination or lie to get that front page

Correspondents by nature are not team players but salaried freelances who compete with, instead of cooperating with, their colleagues. Glory hounds, they want to break the big story themselves. Instead of being loyal to any group, they are suspicious of all groups. They do not respect authority. Frequently incompetent, they are pushy, demanding, and irritating
Reporters aren’t on the team. They report what they see, or think they see. Many do not know what they are talking about, but the military detests even more those who do.
Lazy, emotive journalism worthy of a british red top.

3/10 Stay after class
 
#9
gingwarr beat me to it, but I will add this little tid bit.

Most news printed about soldiers and military, in the US at least, is about fcuk ups; Abu Ghrab, weddings bombed, civilians killed, etc. It is also critical of their leadership including the civilian leadership from CinC down. And they seem to be fixated on how many of their fellow soldiers have lost their life, keeping a running tally and reporting and bombastic fashion when anoth 10, 50, 100, 1000 have died. The motto of the journo is if it bleeds it leads.

The journos, as well as some politicians Charles Rangel comes to mind, think that the enlisted is some poor mind numb down on his luck country bumpkin, and entlisted only because he couldn't find any other job. That officers are pompus control freaks on a power trip. This sterotyping on the journos part is evident in their reporting, and is clearly evident in the article posted above. The military doesn't hate the press, hell they protect the press. The press in the US is protected by the Constitution and a soldier takes a oath to support and defend the Constitution. Thereby ensuring the press the freedom of speech.

I know some that resent, mind you not hate, the press. Here they are protecting their freedom and yet these ingrates can't find it in them to put some positives in print, so some successes. Those that I know don't expect a cheerleading press, that's what the Stars and Stripes and AFN is for, but they would appreciate some balance.

Hey but what do I know I was only entlisted, and in the four years I served I was taught to not think for myself :roll:
 
#10
Is it reasonable to differentiate between front line independent journalists,

(who throw themselves around dangerous places, sporting fishing waist coats, a camera bag and big balls)

and the

UK US/office based journalists that choose content and direct the "flavour" of news pieces? (the leechs)

Do the armed forces have more respect for the former?

thegimp
 
#11
I've been following Ralph Peters for a while and also read http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/2005/07/do-they-know.html
It was really the contrast between them and Fred that led me to post this to see how near each was. Obviously, press guys have to follow the line of their editors. My reading of things here is that the UK troops are still able to make their own minds up as to who is and who isn't worth their salt.
There is just so much happening in Iraq that it is difficult to know just what is really going down.
 

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