14. March 2005 · Comments Off on Whose Truth? · Categories: General, GWOT, Media Matters Not

This story appeared Sunday in the San Antonio Express News. I sent an e-mail this morning to the writer, Sig Christenson, who is (to give him credit) not entirely clueless about the military, since he served as an embedded reporter. Does he know about milblogs? Time will tell, time will tell…
My response is as follows;

So, whose truth really is true, when what appears on the TV news (or in newspapers) is either the “work of Uncle Sam, not journalists…”

Frankly at this point I am not at all enamored with the recent output of those anointed by custom as “journalists” by the mainstream media outlets, seeing that that group would include Peter Arnett (of the poison gas/Special Forces fiasco), Dan Rather (of the “fake-but-accurate-memos), Eason Jordan (who soft-pedaled atrocities by Saddam Hussein in order to keep the CNN bureau in Baghdad, and has accused the US Forces of deliberately targeting journalists) and the egregious Sy Hersh, who is still going around with heart-rending tales of US forces casually committing atrocities. Main stream media is after all the ones who bought off on John Kerry being a true Vietnam War hero when all the veterans that I know (and a lot of the active-duty folks as well) despised him with a passion that made them practically incoherent with rage. Main stream media is propping up the bar at the Hotel Palestine, interviewing the maitre d and their interpreter, singing the song that Iraq is a quagmire… and get blindsided by the election turnout. Main stream media is putting video of staged car-bombings on the front page, or the nightly news, and never getting around to the dull stuff like fixing sewers and rebuilding schools, and setting up local city councils. “If it bleeds, it leads”, but it is damn lazy journalism, and in Iraq it’s a disservice amounting to malpractice. Lets just say there is a bit of a credibility problem, at present, and a bias that makes the DOD version of news (not to mention what is available on the various milblogs) look pretty good in comparison.

By the way, the DOD has had in-house journalists, via AFRTS, base newspapers, and video feature programs like Air Force Now, and combat videographers for decades. They generally have a pretty good idea about what is news, and how to put together zippy, attractive and informative features, sticking to the good old who, where, when, why and how. Dismissing all that as merely the “work of Uncle Sam, not journalists” is a little bit insulting to all of us who did news features, stories, newscasts and all— especially if it gave some of us the experience to move on to civilian media afterwards.

If stations want to use whatever materiel is spoon-fed to them to fill up the news block, at least they ought to give credit, where credit is due, and not give the impression that their own news crew was Johnny on the Spot. That is where the deceit lies, not in the DOD making what they have been doing for years available to anyone who wants it. And looking on the bright side— at least the military media will get things like service and ranks correct, which cannot always be counted on.

I worked for 20 years in AFRTS and in Combat Camera, and have spent the last three years contributing to a military oriented weblog, The Daily Brief (www.sgtstryker.com), which according to our chief engineers, racks up 32,000 to 35,000 unique viewers monthly. We feature essays, commentary and links on popular culture, the military, politics and the war. Does that make us journalists? I’ll get back to you on that.

“Sgt Mom”, USAF, Ret

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