Posted on Oct 2, 2014
SGM Senior Adviser, National Communications
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If truth is the first casualty of war, it doesn't necessarily thrive in times of peace. Modern media coverage, including social media, means we now think we "know" more about more things faster than ever before in history. That can give us a pretty jaded picture that something is normal or abnormal in ways that can feed bias and influence our next behaviors. Consider Vietnam. Commanders and Congress wanted body counts. So they got them. Often inflated. Enemy used that against us to show our own dead bodies. We lost the battle for public opinion because the truth was lost."
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Responses: 9
1SG Steven Stankovich
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I think that one thing to remember is that media outlets, to include social media outlets, have an agenda. That agenda usually revolves around headlines that "sell" and will eventually produce a profit for that outlet. It is always best to look for corroborating reports and research news outlets to identity those that are more close to the facts than others.
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SPC Brian Aranda
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I agree with 1SG Steven Stankovich The Media wants to sell a product, the better that product sells, the better their bottom line. Truth, while always in the best interests of reporting the facts, doesn't sell as well as sensationalism.
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COL Jean (John) F. B.
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News media has gone from reporting to distorting to fit their agenda. They all have one. One has to be aware of this and not take anything at face value.

I am a FOX News fan and watch it almost exclusively. Although I think they probably do a better job of covering both sides of an issue by having opposing views as a regular part of their shows, there is still no doubt that they are pushing a particular agenda. Since I support that agenda, that is the network I choose to watch; but I know they are not 100% news with no opinions mixed in.

There is no more "pure news", except, maybe, some local news coverage by local channels, not networks.
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SGM Senior Adviser, National Communications
SGM (Join to see)
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Col Burleson, I do agree. My professional colleagues might not as many have a vested interest in the outcome. That said, as Senior Correspondent at Pacific Stars and Stripes, our main battle for truth was with military and embassies. In one case, the new Sano Hotel was being built and about to open. Americans in the old Sano Hotel had to move out on a specific day . Embassy put pressure on us not to publicize. I went to embassy armed with copies of coverage in Japanese newspapers + US contracting announcements published in them. We presented that it was rather odd to ask our soldiers to defend democracy overseas when it was denied to them in their "independent" newspapers. Similarly, we covered violence in military families and many other sensitive issues...and I am not a "gotcha reporter" as some of my immature fellow reporters were. I was a mil brat and DODDS high school graduate, so that offered fair perspective, not a biased one. Yet we constantly encountered commanders who feared any kind of negative news coverage. Over time we gained high credibility...yet I find it ironic that the same commanders who demanded fair civilian coverage had reverse behaviors on base. Truth is a two edged sword!
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SGM Senior Adviser, National Communications
SGM (Join to see)
7 y
PS--COL B--Public Affairs also has its share of cartoon characters that hamper the field's credibility. For too long the field was dumping ground for misfits; which made it near impossible for a motivated fellow to make a positive difference. That began to change due to a few fine officers and NCOs when we had our own separate official branch in the 90s. I recently spoke at Press Camp HQ Ft Bragg and was very very impressed with the small pool of PA soldiers.
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COL Jean (John) F. B.
COL Jean (John) F. B.
7 y
I consider the Stars and Stripes unique, in that it operates from inside the Department of Defense, although only partially subsidized by non-appropriated funds, with a large part of its operating cost coming from the sale of advertising and subscriptions.

The content of the Stars and Stripes, in my opinion, while safeguarded by the First Amendment, should be totally devoid of political commentary or agendas. It should be devoted to reporting the news and stories of personal interest to the military and civilian population it serves. Those stories should be reported in a factual basis and what is reported should not be dictated by local commanders. What is news is news; good for the military or not.

While not as true today as it was a few years ago, due to the advent of the Internet and the multiple opportunities for individuals to get news, Stars and Stripes was the sole source of current news (in English) for military and affiliated civilian personnel and family members overseas. As such, I think they had an obligation to report the facts, with no spin, even more so, since they were a quasi-government publication.

My experience with the Stars and Stripes over the years has been good, overall, with only one bad experience. While in Germany in the early-mid 90’s, I had a memorable falling out with the Stars and Stripes – Europe, due to what amounted to slanted reporting. We had an incident that garnered a good bit of negative press for the Military Police and I was interviewed by the Stars and Stripes, only to have my comments taken totally out of context. I requested that a clarification be run in the next edition, which was refused by the Stars and Stripes. As a result, I issued a policy that prohibited Area/Base Support Group (ASG/BSG) Provost Marshals to respond verbally to or grant interviews with the Stars and Stripes and directed that all communications with the Stars and Stripes be in writing. The Stars and Stripes was not happy about that and printed a copy of my directive in the paper. That policy stayed in effect until I left Germany to PCS to Korea.

Soon after my arrival in Korea as the Commander, 8th Military Police Brigade/Provost Marshal, 8th Army/Provost Marshal, US Forces Korea/Provost Marshal, Combined Forces Command, Korea, I was visited by the head of the Stars and Stripes – Pacific and asked if the policy I had in Europe would apply in the Pacific. I responded that I had no intention of that, at the time, but would certainly consider it if I found the Stars and Stripes to be unfair in their reporting of the facts. I never had a problem with them.

I was a subscriber to the Army Times for over 40 years, starting my subscription as a Cadet and continuing it for several years after I retired from the Army, only cancelling it about a year or so ago, almost 13 years after I retired.. While I still consider it a good source of news about the military, the reason I cancelled my subscription is that the Army Times appears to have crossed the line and plays up the “sensational” stories too much for my taste. They dwell on leaders being relieved, controversies, etc. While most are probably newsworthy, they seem to have fallen into an almost National Enquirer style format, which is not my cup of tea.
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