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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Infowar, continued  

A sampling from a comment thread at Winds of Change, two with a generalized diagnosis, two with specific suggestions for treatment.

Kevin Donovan:
I think the main reason that the press gets the military so wrong is that they don’t really cover it until a 'big story' comes along, and then they tend to treat the story as a political event so they send their staff reporters whose expertise is in politics.

But is the press's coverage of the military any worse than their coverage of other specialized topics? Say science or religion?

My impression of journalists' training generally is that it focuses on the 'how to' of journalism and writing and not on gaining substantive expertise in the field they will cover.
Bart Hall:
[M]ost media types simply don't understand basic science, or for that matter, basic faith. They also have no clue about agriculture, forestry, mining, energy, construction,police work nor most other nuts and bolts aspects of building a society and its economy.

More abstractly, they rarely show any understanding of important distinctions, for example: precision vs accuracy, association vs causality, inference vs implication, observation vs interpretation, or even celebrity vs importance. Media ignorance of basic statistics and evaluation is amazing. ...

We've now got teachers who know all about how to teach, but know very little about what they're teaching. And we've got journalists who know all about how to 'journal,' but know very little about what they're journaling.
Very good catch, on the similar (and similarly ineffective) technical training of teachers and journalists. Question: Since both groups are supposedly in the business of providing accurate information and nurturing critical thinking - in their more expansive moments, "creating good citizens" - which institution's failures have done greater damage to the country? Schools of Education, or of Journalism?

And, two pseudonymous suggestions for improving the military/reportage interface. From Slimedog:
Here's an off-the-wall idea. The military reaped enormous public information benefits from embedded reports in OIF; what if they embedded reporters in the stateside military? Oh, not everywhere, but in key places like basic training, Red Flag, survival school, jump school, and the staff colleges. ... The reporters would get a heck of an education, find a lot of interesting stories along the way, and--just maybe--keep the military a little more honest.
Two words:
Combat Cameramen. Stand them back up, assign them to the line. Don't create a "pool" for non coastal journos to dip into (they'll be dismissed as toeing the Pentagon line). Instead, kick up a couple of servers, and release the footage. (Of "resistance" fighters using woman and children, mosques, etc.....).
The only way to get the info out, is to "route around the damage."
RTWT. This is truly an important issue, one the increasingly politicized press has neither a way or the will to deal with responsibly. The fact that it's wartime makes it life-and-death critical, but the problem exists less malignantly in peacetime.

And it's not going to fix itself.

posted by Kelly | 11:17 PM link