Saturday, June 23, 2007

Report on media

The Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute has a new report on Afghanistan and the media: The Information Gap: Why the Canadian Public Doesn’t Know More About its Military (pdf), by Sharon Hobson. As part of her research, Hobson interviewed several Canadian journalists who have reported on Afghanistan.


A few reporters ran afoul of the military's guidelines and were ejected from the base [Kandahar Air Field], although the exact nature of their infractions was not always made clear.
...the public affairs officers dealing with the embedding program were happy with what they had accomplished. One public affairs officer (PAffO) commented that embedding created a pro-military bias and positive news stories. But as he also noted, “measuring embedding on the basis of press clippings is an error. The real success is the growth of understanding in the media.

...Scott Taylor, editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, listened to General Hillier's complaints about the press and decided to look into his accusations that the media was not giving a balanced view of the mission.
Taylor talked to Senator Colin Kenney, Chair of the Senate Defence Committee, who told him he'd asked for information on development projects but had received nothing from the DND. “They have a map showing the location of each and every one of our casualties,” said Kenney, “but they have nothing which shows the schools built or the wells which they've dug? I find that difficult to comprehend.”Next Taylor went to the DND photographic website, “Combat Camera,” ... The search for images of wells drew a blank, and any pictures of ’roads’ invariably showed combat convoys rather than construction crews.” Taylor concluded that “DND was equally to blame for emphasizing the same negative issues that caused Hillier to denigrate the media.”

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