Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Today's Reading Assignment

Michael Yon, on how the military keeps trying to lose the information war, one embed at a time. As he reports, it's becoming difficult for bloggers and journalists to embed with military units. In one case, Fox News had to turn down an embed tour because there was no place for their crew to stay--except with itinerant contract workers who might steal their equipment. In other instances, embeds have no workspace at major military bases, making it difficult to file their stories, photos and videos.

Memo to CENTCOM: a little accommodation goes a long, long way. Put another way: if you can roll out the red carpet for network big-shots (as you did for Brian Williams and his NBC entourage), it shouldn't be that hard to find bunk space and an internet connections for embeds who spend days--even weeks--with your units.

Requests for temporary billeting and internet access are not unreasonable. Yes, we understand the surge is underway and space is tight, but the issues raised by Michael Yon cut to the heart of the information war, and why we're still having problems in that area.

Think about it.

4 comments:

anonymous said...

Yon is complaining that the military isn't journalist friendly. It's obvious the reason - journalists all over the world including the US are anti-american and especially anti-US-military. Why should the generals provide resources so journalists can fight on the enemies side in the media war? Even if a journalist writes a poitive story his editor will spin it negative. Yon with his on line diatribes is now part of the problem when at one time he was part of the solution. He has lost track of the story and is now making himself the story.

Peter said...

Yon is complaining that the military isn't journalist friendly. It's obvious the reason - journalists all over the world including the US are anti-american and especially anti-US-military. Why should the generals provide resources so journalists can fight on the enemies side in the media war?

Well Michael Yon isn't one of those journalist and does not have a editor.

If Colonels ,Majors and Generals can't figure that out and also can not see their is a propaganda element to this war and this old phone repairmen can, Maybe I should be a General.

Give Michael Yon what he needs the war effort will be better off if they do.

Making The Wheels Turn said...

"Yon is complaining that the military isn't journalist friendly. It's obvious the reason - journalists all over the world including the US are anti-American and especially anti-US-military. Why should the generals provide resources so journalists can fight on the enemies side in the media war? Even if a journalist writes a positive story his editor will spin it negative"

All true, but these days, the entire situation is different - on a strategic level.

First off, the military is (and has been) getting bad press regardless - it's just there is NO GOOD PRESS.

Secondly, we have rapidly developing alternative news sources - BLOGS, for example, and the widespread internet access for these blogs makes then very worthy competive information channels for regular MSM outlets.

We've got 4 of the 5 critical assets already in place to completely break the MSM's hold on information:
1) On-location Talent. Who better than the likes of Mike Yon, or Bill Roggio, or others. Typical MSM "Talking Heads" not wanted.
2) Technology. Mike Yon probably has $30-$40k in gear. Back in 1990, you couldn't have done even partially what he's currently doing for $125k
3) Distribution: Basing. Used to be (still is with MSM), that you had to have giant investments in bricks/mortar, corp HQ, and production facilities. People like Mike Yon work with websites and Internet hosts, and costs are a tiny fraction of typical MSM distribution costs.
4) Distribution: Processing. Upload to the Internet, viral marketing takes cares of the rest. Pretty soon somebody like Fox News comes along and links to Mike's (or Bill REoggion's www.fourthrail.com website) website, and all the eyeballs you ever wanted start happening. Ever heard of the "slashdot effect"?

There's just ONE asset we don't have in place in Iraq that we really need - and it's KILLING us not having it there. A group of media smart military running the PAO.

We need a second clone of General Petraeus for dealing with the media (and the guys in charge of PAO relations are failing us BADLY!.

Spook86 said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone, I think you raise some good points. One final observation, if I may: it's always worth remembering that public affairs programs don't occur in a vaccum. The PAOs submit their "plans" (just like any other staff function), for approval by their commanders. The commander, in turn, sets overall guidance for public affairs, based heavily on the inputs from his staff.

Four years into Iraq, I'm wondering if the current problem lies more on the PAO end, or the command side of that issue. Admittedly, I've met some PAOs who simply don't have a clue, but I've met others who have are sharp and proactive, but their efforts are overruled by commanders who simply distrust the media, for obvious reasons.

Obviously, there are some flag officers currently in Iraq who don't like Yon. It would be interesting to know if that personal animosity has been translated (unofficially) into the current policy, or if the current crop of PAOs are simply of the brain-dead variety.

Whatever the reason, we're taking another step backward in the information war.