The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

US military's ineffective media operation: by an old hand

An ex-military journo, James Lacey, lays into the the poorly performing military media system - and, in particular, the failure of public affairs officers to make and maintain relationships with journos.

The result, he says, is that bad news from Iraq is presented without context, and good news not presented at all.

Bizarre, given the importance of morale at home to sustaining an operation like the Iraq occupation.

But the military matters that grab the attention of pols are multi-billion dollar procurement contracts and the campaign contributions that can be milked from the defence industry.


Also from Plawg copytaster Romenesko, a piece on the dangers faced by journos working in Iraq.

The media operation being run by the puppet Allawi government goes beyond a lack of stroking of journos to outright hostility:
...the worst example of government attacks on the press happened during this summer's siege at the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf. At 10:30 p.m. on August 25, dozens of armed police, many of them masked, stormed a Najaf hotel widely used by journalists. Firing warning shots in the lobby and beating down doors to rooms, police forcibly removed some 60 journalists from the Bahr Najaf Hotel and packed them into waiting trucks without explanation.

"After I was put into the truck, one policeman leaned down and told me in Arabic, ‘Now we are going to take you out and kill you. You will all die.' It was a clear attempt to terrify us," freelance photographer Thorne Anderson says.

After being driven in an open truck through a city where major street fighting was continuing, the reporters were herded into a coerced press conference where the chief of police complained about coverage by the Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya. The journalists were held for an hour without basis or charge.

And apparently they were one muscular spasm away from creating a martyr:
When Knight Ridder photographer Allison Long took pictures of police beating a suspect in August, she tells CPJ, a uniformed officer tried to wrench away her camera. When she resisted, a plainclothes officer came up from behind, drew and cocked his gun, and pointed it at her, saying he would kill her. A passing Iraqi government official had to intercede.

A Nguyen Ngoc Loan for our time, almost; but was there an Eddie Adams on hand to snap the event?

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