Saturday, June 10, 2006

Narrow Media Coverage

The Canadian media does the Canadian Forces and all Canadians a disservice in their reporting of our actions in Afghanistan. Recent Posts at Small Dead Animals and this one at Counterterrorism Blog highlight the “Deathwatch” by reporters at the Kandahar Airfield.

To be fair to reporters, it has been reported that they do not want to sit in Kandahar waiating for soldiers to die, but they are at the mercy of the news bureaus that are looking for the sensational story (there being nothing more sensational than the death of a soldier).

However, rather than blame the MSM and wail about the media, I feel it is more important to look at what can be done about it. The obvious thing for the Canadian Forces to do would be to send their own reporters out to Afghanistan.

But the Canadian Forces has no reporters, you say? Technically this is true, but as most of those on the right of the political spectrum would say, based on some of the quality of reporting we see in Canada, it doesn’t take much to be a reporter.

The Canadian Forces publishes a number of newspapers, including a national newspaper, the Maple Leaf. As well, most major bases have their own newspaper, such as The Petawawa Post in Petawawa, The Lookout in Esquimalt and The Contact in Trenton, to name a few.

Now, I agree that a base newspaper is a far cry from a national daily. Most stories are the sort you would find in a local community newspaper with a bit of a military twist. For example, instead of a local councilman opening up the new swimming pool, it will be some guy in a military uniform, probably with the title of Lieutenant Colonel in the front of his name.

However, this is not to say that the editors of these newspapers could not act as reporters. With such a small staff, (these are usually one man operations), the editor might write a number of articles for each issue, particularly if the paper is short of content to fill the space.

Why not find one, or more, of these editors who are interested in going to Afganistan and send them? The military would get a reporter not beholden to the “Deathwatch” focused news bureaus and the citizens of Canada might get more information from Afghanistan than the coverage of coffins. In addition, if the reporter is a military member then they are aware of military culture and how the system works, resulting in less confusion regarding military terms and time spent trying to understand the military mindset. The Canadian Forces might only have to do it for a few months, as the public might become more interested in the actions going on in the war and the demand of these types of stories grows, the MSM might step up.



Mad Mike said...

Good idea.
Another consideration: The CF is absolutely and completely consumed with the "Liability" bugaboo. That probably affects decisions about when and where to send civilian reporters. They probably cringe everytime one is sent out with a patrol.
If the "reporter" is already a CF member, then their asses would be covered, and a lot more reports might come in from the field.
The fact that the "reporter" might be handy with a C7 would probably be appreciated by the troops, too...

Derbecker said...

"...but as most of those on the right of the political spectrum would say, based on some of the quality of reporting we see in Canada, it doesn’t take much to be a reporter."

Only those on the right say that? I've seen a pretty equal amount of left and right wing trash. Read both. Filter out what doesn't sound like ego, party line, or the result of skipped journalism classes due to $1.50 draught.