Magazine article National Defense

Reporter to Future Military Leaders: News Media Is Your Best Friend

Magazine article National Defense

Reporter to Future Military Leaders: News Media Is Your Best Friend

Article excerpt

U.S. armed services need to do a better job of working with the news media to explain themselves to the American public, a senior war correspondent for a major news magazine told students at the Army War College, at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

Because the college has a policy of protecting the anonymity of speakers at its events, the correspondent--and others who made comments during the college's annual Media Day--could not be identified by name. The Army invited a group of reporters who regularly cover the Pentagon to attend a daylong seminar at the college and discuss relations between the services and the media.

The War College, located just north of the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, is the Army's senior educational institution. Established in 1903, it trains selected officers for high command. Its graduates include such legendary Army commanders as John J. Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.

The correspondent, in the seminar's keynote address, told the current class of future leaders that it is in their interest to improve relations with reporters for the nation's television networks, newspapers and magazines.

"You, the military, have the responsibility of persuading the American public that you are important, that you matter," the reporter said. "We are your way to reach the public. We have been bad at understanding your problems, but you have been very bad at explaining your problems to us."

The military services and the media "need each other," said the correspondent. "The media is the best friend that you've got in U.S. society. You should realize that, and build upon it."

It's not reasonable, he said, to expect unremittingly favorable coverage. "Think of us as a lens. We are something of a window--an interface--to the rest of the world."

U.S. military personnel are "the servants of the biggest superpower since Rome," the reporter said. "I'm certain that that's going to involve you in a plethora of problems that you didn't envision at West Point." Among them, the reporter predicted, will be a lot more deployments like Kosovo, Somalia and Haiti.

The public, the journalist said, "has enormous regard for you at the moment--much higher than it has for the media, which I think is very healthy. …

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