In this corner,
blogging as BlackFive .
one of the Trib’s investigative reporters, was embedded with the 1st Marine Division. Prine, 36, joined the Trib’s special-projects team in July 2000. His reporting on local heroin abuse has won state and local journalism awards. His 2002 special report on security lapses at chemical and nuclear-power plants was a finalist for the prestigious Oakes Awards and has been recognized by two journalism organizations — Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is a U.S. Marine veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and previously worked as a combat correspondent in Sierra Leone for the Christian Science Monitor.
An investigative journalist for a second-tier Main Stream Media outlet with significant military experience. Embedded with 1st MAR DIV, went to Baghdad with them. A cursory peek at what he reported five years ago looks fairly decent to me. I first heard of him the other night when he came on PBS. It was an old rerun, but it was new to me. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and went back to Iraq as a shooter. Whatever douchebaggery he may or may not be guilty of, he has cred. Cred which he is attempting to trade on in bolstering the reputation of the Main Stream Media as purveyors of Strategic Communications pertaining to the United States Armed Forces and running down the effectiveness of New Media as purveyors of same.
Milblogs exist because millions of serving and former American military personnel and their family members and friends and supporters lost confidence in the objectivity of the MSM. The anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-military BIAS of the American MSM, the objectively pro-insurgent tone of most of the reporting, and an intolerable predisposition on the part of the press to believe the worst about those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan created a demand for
real experiences flying unfiltered to anyone with an Internet connection and an interest.*
The unfiltered part was the basis of milblog credibility.
In a nation with decreasing numbers of citizens who have any personal connection to the military, blogs serve to educate those who are interested about the values, beliefs, and humanity of those in uniform. To augment the efforts of Army journalists, blogs offer readers a soldier’s-eye report that seems more credible – straight from the trenches, complete with interesting anecdotes and colorful descriptions – a perspective that is clearly unsanitized by Army leadership.17 According to one retired officer, “The best blogs offer a taste of reality of Iraq or Afghanistan that the news media rarely capture. And they’re often a grand, irreverent hoot.”18
MAJ Robbins understood the value of hundreds of unofficial part-time PSYOPers contributing to the effort to engage the domestic target audience’s attention, interest and support for the mission and the people carrying it out. But those days are gone. PA, IA, and OPSEC triumphed over PO. Active duty bloggers face ever more restrictions. Blogs are being blocked from government computers. Milbloggers, potential milbloggers, and commenters are being herded into pass-word protected, IA-approved Army Knowledge Online cyber ghettoes inaccessible to the unsponsored.
Whoever gets in will be even less appreciative.
Regime change in Washington is going to reverberate throughout the blogosphere for as long as it lasts, which may not be long.
Interpreting milspeak to the general public, encouraging support for the troops and their missions, cheerleading, disseminating good news, bolstering the people’s will to endeavor to persevere, pushing back against those who would blow up recruiting stations, vandalize memorials, desecrate funerals, and spit on soldiers is a campaign in the War of Ideas that will continue after the election, but it will have to be fought by the only force left that is free to speak, while they still are free to speak.
MSM War Correspondent vs. Virtual Warlord. Credibility is in the eye of the beholder.
*Matthew Currier Burden, The Blog of War, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2006, p. 4