18 December 2007

"But I'm not seeing any progress"

The most common thing that gets tossed in my face when I try to discuss Iraq with people is "I'm not seeing any progress."

This is fundamentally amusing coming from folks who have never been over to Iraq, but that's almost trivial.

What they mean is that the media isn't talking the good news. And if there isn't any bad news, they just invent their own fictional stories. In fact, over the past six weeks,

Time/CNN was busted spouting story about 20 decapitations in Diyala Province. Didn't happen. BBC, which also picked up the story, published a retraction.

Reporters Without Borders reported that the family of a journalist had been massacred by a death squad. Funny, they look awfully lively for a dead family.

Some alleged dead construction workers in Afghanistan turn out to be al-Qaeda after all.

12 people were killed and their homes burnt to the group, but a couple days later AP slips in an almost-retraction. Read down that article and you notice that they couldn't find evidence of this alleged massacre/burning. So Gateway Pundit checks with MNF-I and gets a flat denial.

Anyway, Gateway Pundit is tracking this stuff better than I have the time and inclination to do. Short version? Don't believe much of what you see in the media if it is doom and gloom. Most of it is unverifiable, and the rest is simply invented in the fevered imagination of a stringer (who probably is a terrorist) or some journalist who is giving a source too much credibility and not doublechecking.

I hate to say it, but telling the truth is not part of Arab culture. Telling you what the Arab thinks you want to hear, is. If you tell an Arab you want stories of massacre, he will spin you a story that happened to "my cousin" in another town or some other unverifiable nonsense. Western reporters ask leading questions. An Arab, faced with that, is going to know precisely what the journalist wants and give it to him.

You want information on Iraq, get it from the only people in theater who actually get fired if they get caught telling lies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if I would quite call CentCom "spin central" but the armed forces have a long history of only showing one side. And exaggerating.

I mean how else do you reportedly kill 2.5x the population of Viet Nam and loose the war?

And something like http://www.mnci.centcom.mil/Releases/200611/MNCI-PR_2006-11-30-16_insurgents.pdf

doesn't count as news. There is no analysis, no mention of civilians

It reads more like a police blotter.

I am sure it has its uses, but as a civilian trying to get the big picture--or even a couple of decent medium sized ones that looks like nothing more than a wall of noise.

6:52 PM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

As if any of the civilian networks are anything but "walls of noise."

Shit, at least we have accountability.

3:13 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Oh, yeah it reads like a police blotter. There is no singing, no dancing, no stupid banter or commentary from some idiot sitting in a recording studio in New York who can barely find Iraq on a map.

Facts, man.

It presents facts.

The New York Times, WashPo, CNN, MS-NBC, etc. provide falsehood but it is packaged more entertainingly and has something that sounds like "analysis".

Like I said, Public Affairs Soldiers have lost their careers over a single falsehood. Reporters and editors do not, as a rule.

I know who has greater incentive to provide truth.

3:13 AM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

Like I said, Public Affairs Soldiers have lost their careers over a single falsehood. Reporters and editors do not, as a rule.

I know who has greater incentive to provide truth.

Been there, seen that. The NCO who got nailed for letting the debacle I saw happen will never work in PA again. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, he got kicked out of theater and invited to retire.

I've also seen PA NCOs get booted out of the DMAIN PA shop for failing to do their job, and not staying on the ball WRT reporter embeds and the like. He was last seen handing out towels on the graveyard shift at the MWR gym. (Nope, I'm not kidding.)

3:16 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

By the way, an attack on a convoy "Southwest of Samarra" means "a highway in the middle of nowhere" I used to work in that area, you know?

There aren't any damn civilians mentioned because there weren't any killed.

3:19 AM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

Also, press releases are NOT news stories and are NOT analyzed for you. They're supposed to be short, sweet and to the POINT. We're not supposed to use any more words that are strictly necessary to get the point of the press release across.

News FEATURES or news STORIES are going to be longer, usually 900-1000 words and may involve more quotations. However, since we're not supposed to be telling what to THINK, we don't do analysis in the stories.


This isn't a US Army guide, but it does give some basic guidelines for a press release. You'll note these two things:

Write for the Media. On occasion, media outlets, especially online media, will pick up your press release and run it in their publications with little or no modification. More commonly, journalists will use your press release as a springboard for a larger feature story. In either case, try to develop a story as you would like to have it told. Even if your news is not reprinted verbatim, it may provide an acceptable amount of exposure.


Economics of words. Use only enough words to tell your story. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives, flowery language, or redundant expressions such as "added bonus" or "first time ever". If you can tell your story with fewer words, do it. Wordiness distracts from your story. Keep it concise. Make each word count.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2007/12/re-but-im-not-seeing-any-progress.html

9:12 AM  

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