How should the military respond to citizen journalism in the field of combat?

    by Mark Glaser
    April 3, 2007

    Ever since the advent of U.S. military personnel blogging about their experiences in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military brass has been in a conundrum. Do they allow these eye-opening first-person accounts from the front lines, or do they try to rein them in to keep control over the storylines of the Iraq War? Not only are milblogs providing first-person text accounts of war, but there are also photos and video streaming in from the front lines as never before. (See this MediaShift guide to soldier videos from Iraq.)

    I recently received a question on this topic from Chris Eder, a broadcast journalist for the Air Force who blogs at AFNBroadcaster. “The Air Force’s #1 weakness is telling a timely story, and its #1 strength is telling an accurate story,” Eder said. “Citizen journalism’s #1 strength is telling a timely story. Given these restraints, how do you think the Air Force could best leverage all of these voices to tell one message?” Good question and one I will put to you, dear MediaShift readers. How should the Air Force and the rest of the U.S. military deal with citizen journalism among soldiers? Should they just filter posts that could give away strategy or soldier locations? Is it something they should embrace, and how? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll run the best ones in the next Your Take Roundup and send them to Eder.

    Tagged: department of defense journalism military security soldier videos

    2 responses to “How should the military respond to citizen journalism in the field of combat?”

    1. Chris Eder says:

      First of all I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t correct the message. The AF’s #1 weakness quote is my opinion, not AF fact. I crafted that statement as a catalyst to justify citizen journalism in the AF.

      Dear MediaShift Reader-
      I look forward to your ideas!

    2. Heh. Nice application of Rule No. 8.

      I don’t really think the Air Force should be trying to “leverage” their airmen’s messages. As soon as Big AF started to appear to grant semi-official status to a milblogger, I think that blogger would lose some credibility and independence.

      I think the best thing the AF can do is to stay out of our way so long as we don’t compromise OPSEC or run afoul of the UCMJ.

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