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Sunday, November 8, 2015
Military in the Media
According to an article by usacac.army, less than one half of once percent of the U.S. population is in the armed forces. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many Americans are uneducated about what goes on within the armed forces and in the countries that they fight in.
Over the course of the past hundred years, the media has helped to bridge the gap between the uneducated and the armed forces. The media has developed a close relationship with the armed forces, doing their best to accurately and ethically report the events that occur in the countries the soldiers are fighting in.
Journalism hasn’t always done a good job of reporting, however. There have been cases of bad, unethical journalism, where journalists have released information about dead soldiers before the families have been notified that their son/daughter has been killed. Journalists have a job to be timely with the release of their articles, but they also have a duty to the armed forces and families of the soldiers. This is why it’s important for the media to work closely with the armed forces.
According to the article by usacac.army, the military-media relationship has moved through four distinct periods: censorship, openness, controlled access, and cooperation. With such an unpredictable future, the article proposes that the military embraces a fifth period: engagement.
The first media coverage of American armed forces was during the Mexican War in 1846. Since then, we have seen the four periods of the military-media relationship play out. There was a time when what the media could report was very limited and very censored. As time has gone on, journalists have gained more freedom in what they can report and as a result, Americans (those who pay attention) have gained an outlet of knowledge.
The article suggests that the armed forces be more proactive and engaged in what the media is saying about them and the potential that the media has to tell their story. “To be proactive means to seize the initiative, to be agile in engaging with the media. Being proactive means anticipating news stories and addressing information requirements associated with stories by identifying the relevance of one’s own organization to a given news story,” the article states. If the soldiers and the commanders recognize that they can influence how a story is told by providing information and their own perspectives/experience on the topics being reported, journalists can improve their work and accuracy while reporting. If the media and the armed forces work together, they can both help each other and help the public understand the importance and magnitude of what goes on.
This article gives a detailed and strategic plan on how to better engage the military in the media. It also gives an argument against a more engaged military in the media, pointing out the inaccurate and poor reporting that some journalists have done and can do. It’s inevitable, however, that journalists will continue to be assigned to report on military operations and events that occur which the citizens of America cannot witness. Without the media, individuals are blind to what goes on, which is why it’s important for both the media and the military to work together. It’s important for the military to do their part, but it’s important for journalists to also keep in mind their ethical principles and always base their reporting around what is right and what is good.