Sunday, January 07, 2007

Editors, how many vets are in your newsroom? 
Hugh Hewitt takes up the baton:

Sgt. Boggs also relayed how he easily distinguishes between Shia and Sunni populations and towns, understands the basic history of Islam, understands the basic political divides of the various parties contending for power today, knows the foreign infiltration's intensity and lethality, and, crucially, know the military and its routines.

And as for Iraq's roads, climate, seasons etc, few are better schooled. Two years in a country --one in the south and one in the north-- teach you a lot.

I asked Sgt. Boggs what the MSM could do to improve their coverage of the war?

"Hire me and a bunch of my friends to be their reporters," he replied. (A paraphrase, but very close.)

And it struck me immediately that he is right. Undeniably and completely right. There is no reason for MSM coverage of the war to be so deficient or lame. There are thousands of returned veterans, from Colonel Bay on down to Sgt. Boggs, who know the country, know the military, know the enemy, and who know how to cover the war from the front and in depth. It is much easier to make them into producers, cameramen, on-air reporters and print journalists than it is journalists into war journalists comfortable with the military and wise about the enemy.

Some of the milbloggers are already accomplished journalists like Col. Bay. Others are a long way towards being sound professionals like Sgt. Boggs.

My question is whether there is even one MSMer currently reporting from Iraq who was an Iraq or Afghan War veteran? Even one?

And why aren't there a hundred such veterans-turned-reporters?

And have the journalism schools bothered to track down the accomplished and returned warriors and ask them to lecture the journalists-in-the-making on how to cover the war?

One guest suggested MSM will not hire veterans because such a skills set will not produce the sorts of stories that advance the MSM's agenda, which is an anti-Administration, anti-war agenda. Perhaps he is correct.

But it is undeniably true that there are ways to cover the war well --to "flood the (war) zone"-- and to avoid the trap that that General Mattis describes the MSM as having fallen into.

There does not, however, seem to be the inclination. For in depth reporting on Iraq --and the war's many other fronts-- we will have to continue to rely on new media.

You and I both know the answer to the "why" question, Jason.

The prevailing culture in newsrooms does not like "our type." It's not conservative, or military service, or harshly objective per se. It's just a combination of things that make us not really fit in the dominant culture in newsrooms, which (based on my experience handling reporters) is big on liberal received wisdom, reaffirming that world view, and rejecting all the uncivilized dregs of America, AKA Red State culture. For that matter, our distaste towards then runs toward the personal these days too. It reminds me of Bill Whittle's "Tribes" essay, that a commenter reminded me of recently. Different tribes, bro.
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