MoD vs Journos: Squaddies 0 Whitehall 1

#1
Odd title, I know, but the attempted point is that MoD- and thus largely civvy- PR bods may be more culpable for the lack of empathetic, close-up reporting from Helmand than our celeb-obsessed journos:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/15/afghanistan-embedded-journalists-mod

Thirteen British soldiers died last month in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Their deaths were reported, for the most part, in small paragraphs on the inside pages of newspapers. Why? Because journalists find it almost impossible to reach and report from the frontline of the conflict. When the Royal Marines launched a fierce hand-to-hand battle last Christmas in the muddy poppy fields of central Helmand, four soldiers died - but the only news that escaped was a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

As in so many wars, truth seems to be the first casualty of this conflict. There has been a devastating breakdown of relations between many defence correspondents and officialdom, journalists say. "Dealing with the Ministry of Defence is genuinely more stressful than coming under fire," says the Telegraph's defence correspondent, Thomas Harding. "We have been lied to and we have been censored."...
And in a shock development, Tom Newton-Dunn comes across quite well...
 
#2
Rumpelstiltskin said:
Odd title, I know, but the attempted point is that MoD- and thus largely civvy- PR bods may be more culpable for the lack of empathetic, close-up reporting from Helmand than our celeb-obsessed journos:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/15/afghanistan-embedded-journalists-mod

Thirteen British soldiers died last month in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Their deaths were reported, for the most part, in small paragraphs on the inside pages of newspapers. Why? Because journalists find it almost impossible to reach and report from the frontline of the conflict. When the Royal Marines launched a fierce hand-to-hand battle last Christmas in the muddy poppy fields of central Helmand, four soldiers died - but the only news that escaped was a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

As in so many wars, truth seems to be the first casualty of this conflict. There has been a devastating breakdown of relations between many defence correspondents and officialdom, journalists say. "Dealing with the Ministry of Defence is genuinely more stressful than coming under fire," says the Telegraph's defence correspondent, Thomas Harding. "We have been lied to and we have been censored."...
And in a shock development, Tom Newton-Dunn comes across quite well...
Double-edged sword.

I'm not at all in favour of censorship, however, if you enjoy the protection, logistics and hospitality of a host, you play by his rules.

If you don't like the rules, find another way to report from the frontline and earn your danger pay.
 
#3
Mmm, generally yes, but things like:

Loyd describes filing a piece from the town of Musa Qala, describing British reaction to the appointment of a new police commander - a man known for profiting from the drugs trade and beating a local person to death. Loyd quoted a British officer saying they did not want the commander appointed, but Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, had insisted. The press information centre told Loyd they did not approve of the quote. "They told me I had got to remove what the officer had said," Loyd says. "Later, they admitted it was a Foreign Office press officer who had seen the copy and did not approve, for political reasons. It was outrageous."

Newton Dunn says he was asked on one occasion to remove details of how a soldier died - not for security reasons, but so as not to upset the family. "I described how a soldier died a hero, died fighting. It wasn't graphic. And it turned out no one in the family had actually been asked if they objected."
...don't seem quite right.
 
#4
Careful. That's the second plaudit that Tom Newton-Dunn has received recently. From the RN website (link):

HMS Northumberland's PRO (Ship's Weapon Engineer Officer) said:
...It is worth pointing out that it’s easy to have a preconceived idea of media personalities and journalists and the military and the press have not always seen eye to eye. It was suitably pleasing to note that all the team exceeded our expectations in a positive manner. I don’t feel Tom Newton-Dunn will mind if I state that he is most definitely not what you would perceive a ‘tabloid’ journalist to be like...
 
#5
Rumpelstiltskin said:
Mmm, generally yes, but things like:

Loyd describes filing a piece from the town of Musa Qala, describing British reaction to the appointment of a new police commander - a man known for profiting from the drugs trade and beating a local person to death. Loyd quoted a British officer saying they did not want the commander appointed, but Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, had insisted. The press information centre told Loyd they did not approve of the quote. "They told me I had got to remove what the officer had said," Loyd says. "Later, they admitted it was a Foreign Office press officer who had seen the copy and did not approve, for political reasons. It was outrageous."

Newton Dunn says he was asked on one occasion to remove details of how a soldier died - not for security reasons, but so as not to upset the family. "I described how a soldier died a hero, died fighting. It wasn't graphic. And it turned out no one in the family had actually been asked if they objected."
...don't seem quite right.
Of course it's not 'right'. But those are the rules that the media has decided to play with.

Maybe the 'hero of Grozny' needs to get out a bit more. Or is Helmand even more dangerous than Chechnya for a Times reporter - thus dictating that one 'has' to play by MoD/FCO rules?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
Like it or not, without reporters, no story gets out. The FCO/MOD view is not always helpful to the boys and girls on the ground and we should be careful of biting... etc. I'm no fan of the Press but I can quote chapter and verse when we've been shagged by the other side.
 
#7
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
Like it or not, without reporters, no story gets out. The FCO/MOD view is not always helpful to the boys and girls on the ground and we should be careful of biting... etc. I'm no fan of the Press but I can quote chapter and verse when we've been shagged by the other side.
The MoD PR peeps need to just go back a bit to '03: fact is, Journos embedded with military units tend to become 'one of us' - the very fact that they depend on the soldier for protection pretty much dictates that reaction.

My suspicion would be that the reason MoD disnae want journos among our troops is not because the journos are likely to be anti-Tommy Atkins, but because they will be exposed close-up-and-personal to the copnsequences of niggardly resourcing policies and strategic ineptitude for which politicos and Sybil Serprnts are culpable.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Stonker said:
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
Like it or not, without reporters, no story gets out. The FCO/MOD view is not always helpful to the boys and girls on the ground and we should be careful of biting... etc. I'm no fan of the Press but I can quote chapter and verse when we've been shagged by the other side.
The MoD PR peeps need to just go back a bit to '03: fact is, Journos embedded with military units tend to become 'one of us' - the very fact that they depend on the soldier for protection pretty much dictates that reaction.

My suspicion would be that the reason MoD disnae want journos among our troops is not because the journos are likely to be anti-Tommy Atkins, but because they will be exposed close-up-and-personal to the copnsequences of niggardly resourcing policies and strategic ineptitude for which politicos and Sybil Serprnts are culpable.
Agree 100%.
 

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