Back to You General... er, Phil...
April 2, 2003 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Though you won’t hear about them, there are dozens of Pentagon P.R. officers embedded with reporters in Iraq.
posted by cornbread (21 comments total)
Walt Disney Baghdad® is going to be awesome. I am totally going to do the Aladdin ride.
posted by four panels at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2003

The tone of your post suggests that there is something nefarious (censorship?) going on. I don't think that's the case here. With 50-60 reporters with each division, and only 5-6 PR officers, policing the journalists would be rather difficult.

Still, the fact that the Pentagon maintains the position of "P.R. Officer" is somewhat scary. From what I've been able to gather, however, this sort of spin control has been in place at least since the days of WWII.
posted by aladfar at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2003

Thanks for crediting The Morning News with this link, and the headline you grabbed verbatim. Always appreciated.
posted by junkbox at 11:12 AM on April 2, 2003

<off topic>
Just so you know.
</off topic>
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:15 AM on April 2, 2003

Interesting article, P_G, but why post it here? Am I missing a connection?
posted by UrbanFigaro at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2003

Ah, I just want people to know and don't think it justifies an fpp. Ignore me.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2003

It seems this thread is doomed.
posted by dhoyt at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2003

Ok, I read the article... I read it twice. I guess it's possible that maybe my computer isn't loading the entire article, but... It's off of the PR Weekly website, but it's about PA officers, NOT PR officers. Public Affairs Officers. To the best of my knowledge, there's no such thing as a 'PR Officer'.

Not once does the article say anything about PR, but in my opinion your post tries to point some sort of accusational finger at the Pentagon - accusing them of inserting Spin Doctors next to the Embedded Journalists??? Otherwise what was the point of this post? All the PAO's that I've ever met were there to work WITH the media....

Sounds like you're doing your OWN version of PR to me...
posted by matty at 11:44 AM on April 2, 2003

Don't feel bad PG. That arsehole Blair was even today claiming that it was 'increasingly likely' that the market bomb was 'probably' not a coalition bomb.

These days two sketchy conditionals make a definite in the House of Commons.
posted by skellum at 11:46 AM on April 2, 2003

Matty, public affairs is the military term for public relations. There's a reason the article is in PR Week.

This isn't really surprising -- of course the military is going to have minders watching the journalists. They don't want anyone reporting troop locations or other sensitive information *cough*cough*Geraldo*cough*, and they want to steer the coverage in a pro-U.S. direction -- just as Saddam would like to steer coverage in an anti-U.S. direction. Like it of not, propaganda is a part of war.
posted by me3dia at 12:17 PM on April 2, 2003

Well, most companies have P.R. people who do just what those officers are doing. Staying out of the limelight and monitoring what is being asked and said by the media. In fact, if a PR person is doing their job, you will never see them on camera. Their main job is behind-the-scenes. I should know, because that is my job.
posted by mkelley at 12:34 PM on April 2, 2003

mediamanipulationfilter. /snark
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:40 PM on April 2, 2003

The tone of your post suggests that there is something nefarious (censorship?) going on

Yes, I am also underwhelmed by the news. The public affairs corps has its own Web site and insignia: a pen, lightning bolt, and sword, crossed. They hold conferences for industry exhibitors, for gosh sake. Here's the official briefing book telling PA officers how to talk to the media.

Just because you weren't paying attention before doesn't mean they were hiding it from you! On the other hand, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. ;-)
posted by hairyeyeball at 12:45 PM on April 2, 2003

I'd have to agree w/ mkelley about the role of PR people, in that PAO's generally do the same things. I should know, I'm in the military...

However, I don't believe any of the clarification(s) change my opinion that this post was only put up due to someone's paranoia about the role of the military in regards to public opinion (i.e. propaganda).

Everything is NOT a conspiracy...
posted by matty at 12:46 PM on April 2, 2003

It's interesting to note that "propaganda" isn't such a dirty word in languages other than English. In Brazil, we use it interchangeably with "advertising." The Latin root means simply "things to be spread about publicly" — getting your point of view across. Propaganda that lies, in fact, is bad propaganda. Vance Packard is probably to blame for our paranoia here in the States.
posted by hairyeyeball at 1:10 PM on April 2, 2003

"They are a backup," explained PA officer Major Timothy Blair.

Yeah, in case the soldiers fail to suppress all negative information, we've got these guys in there as a failsafe. Thank God!
posted by zekinskia at 1:16 PM on April 2, 2003

What does it mean to be "embedded" with a reporter? Are they sleeping together? I'm confused.
posted by mecran01 at 1:18 PM on April 2, 2003

Though you won’t hear about them

Am I not hearing about it now? :-)
posted by zerofoks at 1:42 PM on April 2, 2003

I prefer the term "cocooned." Of course, I don't want to mix metamorphoses.
posted by newlydead at 4:51 PM on April 2, 2003

Erm, a perspective here from someone who works in the industry...

In the private sector, PR (and thus Public Relations Officers, PROs) deal with media relations. Public affairs consultants do government relations and political lobbying activity.

The military has slightly fudged this (both US and UK) but calling their PROs, PA Officers. Suffice to say, the officers that PR Week references are providing media relations support. There's no conspiracy here, journalists always need accompanying and someone on hand to get additional information and follow up with.

If you want something to get animated about (although it's old hat now I know) then may I direct your attention to the now defunct Office of Strategic Influence. God alone knows, and I dread to think what its former staffers are up to at the moment....
posted by dmt at 8:22 AM on April 3, 2003

Fox News: Our reporters are more embedded than your reporters.
posted by newlydead at 8:15 PM on April 3, 2003

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