Saturday, November 15, 2003

Is the Washington Post Serious about Covering the Military? 
The Washington Post’s Vernon Loeb’s a terrific writer. Check out this article on the nature of the insurgency here in Sunni Iraq. Crisp, balanced, insightful. I’m seeing only two factual errors: both minor, but one of them is very revealing.

First of all, Loeb gets my boss’s name wrong. It’s Hector Mirabile, not Oscar Mirabile. Ok, fine. Daily journalism’s tough, and anyone could make that error.

But more distressingly, Loeb describes Lt. Col. Mirabile as commanding a brigade. Mirabile commands a battalion, not a brigade. The difference is huge. For a separate brigade, the difference can be about ten times as many people. Moreover, lieutenant colonels don’t command brigades. Brigades are nearly always commanded by a full colonel (if part of a division), or by a brigadier general. The word “brigadier” might clue a sharp guy in. You don’t have to be a retired colonel to know that. Any self-respecting Civil War buff ought to be able to hear the words “lieutenant colonel” and instantly think “battalion commander” faster than you can say “Pavlov’s dog.”

The thing is, this isn’t just the Washington Post. This is one of the Post’s best. When I ask other reporters who their favorite writer is on the war, Loeb’s often on the short list. So why are readers of the top politics and policy paper in the nation getting their news and context from a military beat reporter—a war correspondent—who can’t tell the difference between a battalion and a brigade?

I guess the Post was pushed into a corner. After all, everybody knows there are no Civil War buffs around Northern Virginia, and no veterans around Washington, D.C.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!