This week we have heard that the Armed Services are missing their recruitment quotas. However, one point missed in nearly every article I have read misses one important point:

“How has the reporting of the press played a part in lowering recruiting?”

If I can be blunt I don’t think I would be stretching it to say that the press’s reporting on the War in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a little negative. In fact I have really tried to find stories that paint a positive side to what is going on over there with our men and women, but they are hard to find

To be fair there is a lot of bad stuff happening there. Car bombs going off just about every day. Soldiers dying every day. Yet if there was some balance placed into some of the reporting, the ratio of causality to soldiers deployed is fractional compared to other armed conflicts. In fact people are dying on our nation’s highways at a much higher rate than in Iraq. Seriously, we have over 100,000 troops there. To lose one is bad, but realistically, being a 13 year Army Veteran I’ll tell you this: To lose two or three a day on a war of this scale is incredible success.

Kids back home read the paper, look at the news and see “bad, bad, and more bad”. Most of this simply because by and large the MSM is biased against the war and doesn’t want to say anything good about it. Flash back to Vietnam and look at the reports back then and you have pretty much the same picture being painted by MSM on a daily basis. It’s as if they put up a banner: “We’re losing the war, don’t come here – you’ll get killed!”

No, the MSM shouldn't be a cheerleader for the military – but it had better take the responsibility to be BALANCED and UNBIASED in it’s reporting about the war. As with Mr. Isikoff at Newsweek and his 'hackery', the cost can be great. My word to him:

“Bud, if you have an axe to grind against our men and women, take it to France! You are a disgrace to America”.

But “hacks” aside, the MSM is losing credibility and if they ever want to see their “glory” days return they had better get back to Journalism 101 – “Report the news; be fair and balanced; tell the truth.”

2 comments

  1. Joe  

    6/12/2005 02:54:00 AM

    They are what they are -- they're a company selling a product.

    The military, too, is selling a product, in a way -- they want you to decide that the benefits of joining the military outweigh the costs.

    It's natural, and they're just two of many options competing in a vast marketplace for people's time and energy.

    If people don't like news reporting, they're welcome to turn elsewhere (Many are - look at Fox News' viewership numbers). This isn't the Soviet Union, and the MSM ain't Pravda.

    Which is why your attempt to downplay the significance of the Army not meeting its recruiting goals makes no sense. The fact that a negative portrayal of the war in the media lowers recruiting makes no difference -- they have no responsibility to boost recruitment, as it's not their job.

    The army is selling a job that they want people to accept -- that's the whole idea with having a volunteer army, as opposed to a draft (Every military study has shown that a volunteer army is more effective).

    If people aren't volunteering, perhaps the Army should offer them significantly more money. More people will consider military service if it pays six figures.

    Would that cost significantly more money? It would.

    Since the military is providing services to the country, perhaps taxes should be raised to pay for that.


    The lesson here: If you're going to fight a war, don't fight it on the cheap.

  2. MacRanger  

    6/12/2005 08:53:00 AM

    I would agree that the Army (of which I am retired from); should do more to make it more attractive. But there is a history of connection between the media and recruitment.

    For example in both WWI and WWII the media was instrumental in "pumping up patriotism" and motivating a nation to serve. This began to wane in Korea and was nearly non-existant during Vietnam.

    Initially, 9/11 fostered the "go get 'em" that fueled recruitment - but again, becuase of the now mostly negative reporting of the MSM it IS having an affect.

    There ARE very positive things taking place in Iraq and believe it or not our victories far outweigh our defeats. We are making a difference.

    Yet even after WWII some of the same negativity that came out during our occupations of Germany and Japan, are similiar to what we see today.

    In the end I believe you are right in saying that "The Army should do more", because they are definitely in a PR battle with the left of the MSM.

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