25 August 2009

WTF: That's Not How We Used to Do It

Way back in the "Surge" days (2007-2008), we used to do this type of "media assessment" of news coverage of Iraq, but it was mostly for situational awareness for the brass and PAO types, and wasn't meant to ban embeds. From Stars & Stripes:

Rendon examines individual reporters’ recent work and determines whether the coverage was “positive,” “negative” or “neutral” compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005, according to the company.

“We have not denied access to anyone because of what may or may not come out of their biography,” said Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a public affairs officer with U.S. Forces Afghanistan in Kabul. “It’s so we know with whom we’re working.”

U.S. Army officials in Iraq engaged in a similar vetting practice two months ago, when they barred a Stars and Stripes reporter from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division because the reporter “refused to highlight” good news that military commanders wanted to emphasize.
While senior leadership in the military want the press to write great stories about how everything is going swell, the same leaders generally understand there's something called the first amendment, and the military is obligated as a public organization to provide truthful information. If this type of vetting had anything to do with Michael Yon getting his embed canceled, someone's really fucking up. Maybe J is onto something?


Jason said...

This is a very interesting blog that you have here. It's important that their are blogs out there who hold a very strong opinion towards certain issues.

I have a site myself where anyone can freely express their opinion towards controversial issues. I'm telling you this because I believe that you can provide others with some valuable insight towards some issues.

Keep up the good work, and maybe we can do a link exchange.


Lisa said...

Photographer friend Zoriah (http://www.zoriah.com/) was disembedded from his Marine assignment for showing the truth, even though his photos violated no restrictions. The NYT carried the story.

We live in a time of extreme partisanship, and the DoD is not populated by those sympathetic to inconvenient truths.

Nixon said...

Ok thanks, Jason!


Yeah, it's been a big story. Not right in my opinion to kick out an embed because they don't agree with their opinion.

J. said...

I really haven't addressed this issue because I don't see it as such a big deal. DOD's practicing "strategic communications" which means it wants to plan how to get positive viewings from its targeted audience, the general public. Not sure it's a "right" for the press to be embedded with the military, probably a real pain in the ass sometimes. Reporters can always go to their bureau chiefs in Baghdad or Kabul and work from there, as long as the DOD doesn't flat-out deny them access to leadership.

Wek said...

50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 (I'm just trying to help out anon. He seemed stuck.)

olgreydog7 said...

Chances are that there is more to the story than the DoD not likeing someone's writting. I actually used Yon's blog to get some ground truth that I couldn't get anywhere else. My guess is that the OPSEC or mission changed such that they didn't want the responsibility or the destraction of having someone embedded. Now, some reporters will miss the point altogether and should be removed for what they write. Make no mistake, war is hell. It is designed to be. I'm quite sure that an embed could have found atrocities in even the most justified battle. At some point, soeone has to decide if the embed is being honest and nuetral, or if they are playing politics with the situation as well. Of course, when that happpens, whoever made that decision will be chastised by the media for getting rid of said embed for "showing the truth."

GI Kate said...

Just wanted to say hello, hope you're doing well!

Nixon said...

Hi GI Kate,

I stalk you on your twitter in my RSS feed, but I haven't figured out how to reply to any of the "tweets". You damn kids and your new-fangled social media!

Vincent Margott said...

I'm telling you this because I believe that you can provide others with some valuable insight towards some issues.