Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Bravo_Bravo, Oct 1, 2009.
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Knocking HMG is not the most worrying thing in the article, worth a read...
An excellent, succinct, and thought provoking article from Mr Yon, as usual. Everyone out there realises that 2010 is the key year â 2009 has already been, if not a wasted year, then a year of lost opportunities â the election being the main one. At least it has involved the arrival of serious amounts of US troops, which is one essential for âsuccessâ, and an increased emphasis on training the Afghans, which is another.
Meanwhile, on the MOD Blog there is a response to Mr Yonâs last piece, from Nick Gurr, head of MOD Media and Comms. Itâs pretty good really, and worth a read. As I noted at the time, even Mr Yon (whom I have read with interest, and supported, for several years) may not be not immune from the journalist's perception that they are the one who really counts, and that all other Journos are not that important in comparison.
Nick Gurr: Reply to Michael Yon
Last week Michael posted a highly critical piece on the ending of his embed with Task Force Helmand (TFH). This attracted a large number of posts from outraged readers supportive of Michael. I undertook to investigate what had happened. I have now done so.
I know that some readers will not be sympathetic to the MOD's position on a matter such as this. But I would be grateful if you would hear me out. It is clear that there has been a (to quote Michael) "Texas-sized" misunderstanding here, made worse by various other factors, and I apologise for any part that MOD has played in that. But there are a few important points that I would like to make:
Michael's embed is the longest of any person this year by quite some way. Most embeds are for between one and two weeks. And demand for embeds with TFH always exceeds our capacity to supply. I wish that were not the case. But it is. Despite this, we have facilitated 136 media visits to TFH since January this year. On average there were about three people per visit, which means that some 400 media people have visited TFH over the first nine months of this year.
Michael's embed ended because the media ops team needed to assist a number of visits by other journalists, including a package from Northern Ireland regional newspapers (home ground for 19 Brigade), reporters from The Times and Independent, a BBC TV crew, a documentary team and a team from PA. Capacity is limited. I can understand that this may have looked different to Michael. But it was the reason that the embed ended when it did.
Hence the Defence Secretary's reply to Anne Winterton.
Last, and most importantly, while we take a number of factors into account in deciding who to embed and when (when an individual was last embedded, when his/her organisation was, readership), a demand for positive coverage is not among them. We believe that the efforts of our forces in theatre will speak for themselves. Of course we hope for balance - and by and large we get that. We have certainly never had an issue with Michael's reporting.
Clearly something appears to have gone seriously wrong in this case. But everyone in theatre is working under huge pressure which will sometimes generate friction and, as I said, I am sorry if Michael felt he was not being treated as he should be. I am assured that the media ops team in theatre worked hard to support him. It is a shame that the experience should have ended on a sour note.
I hope Michael will find the time to drop in for a chat about how we go forward from here when he is next in London.
Great. Something to look forward to
I must admit that thesecnario and events described by Nick Gurr sound plausible.
Still, Mr. Yons stock remains high here, I suspect, given the cracking quality and honesty of his posts.
If Nick says that was the situation, I believe him - I know him to be an utterly straight chap and anything but a spin doctor. I suspect Snowy is right; that Mr Yon sadly had a brief and very atypical moment of "Newton-Dunnism".
I would go further - I suspect the media ops boys would love nothing else but to have Yon out there at the expense of certain UK reporters; after all, his reporting is balanced, sympathetic to the position of the boys and girls in the front line, he knows how to look after himself and be the minimal burden, and is a bit of an antidote to stereotypical Sceptic views of coalition ops. But we live in the real world and media ops has to be seen to give a fair crack of the whip to other media outlets.
Hopefully there will now be a bit of kissing and making up between Yon and MOps...
I've really enjoyed Yon's reports up till now but in this instance, he's made himself look as big a throbber as a certain SO2...
Agreed . Looks like NATO partners are going to be pulling out in 2011
What a very sensible reply from Nick Gurr-there is perhaps hope for the MoD yet?
On another line, it seems this site is very quick to forget the efforts of elements of the BBC, itself a large and disparate organisation, in informing those at home as to the nature of the war. Without them, we would not, I believe, get the coverage we do. Likewise, The Times and Independent, only the other day the latter decried the hardships that soldiers face in Afghanistan..they can of course do just as much damage, but one ought to be wary of denying access full stop or criticising indiscriminately.
Regarding withdrawal in 2011 - the Dutch have always side that they will stop 'warfighting' before then - probably next year, so there's nothing new there. Likewise, the Canucks - who have done fantastic work, and taken a lot of casualties - have always been open that they will end combat Ops around then - again, nothing new.
What is new I suppose is that as yet no-one other than the Yanks have said they'll send reinforcements to the South to fill the gaps.
I suppose thought that with around 500 NL and 1,000 CA combat troops they would be easy enough for the Yanks to replace numerically - and as long as a few CIMIC and SO3s remain they will still be able to claim involvement, and the Yanks will be able to keep them in the list of 'flags flying' in Afghanistan. It won't be the same, though.
Reading between the lines, it looks like Yon's embed was ended to make space for Anthony Loyd.
While I'm missing Yon's reports, Loyd at least, shares his capacity for giving the Tom's eye view of Helmand.
Story for the Times here: Link
Great article by Loyd . Thanks for posting
Having met the media ops team, Michael was right to assert the fact they are a bunch of throbbers. As for the reply from Nick Gurr, It did not directly answer the questions that was asked by Michael, another example of giving answers to the questions they would like to have really answered.
Whilst the coverage and service of the beeb shouldn't be forgotten, they continually show themselves Labours media arm, rather than an entirely impartial and seperate service.
You can't be entirely sure that they are telling the whole truth, or reporting all the facts.
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