The Command and General Staff College hosted a Media Panel for class 12-01 on August 11, 2011. The panel was comprised of Ms. Kimberly Dozier from the Associated Press, Mr. Tom Bowman from the National Public Radio, Ms. Nancy Youssef from the McClatchy’s News Group, and Mr. Jamie McIntyre a Professor, Lecturer and Military-Media Analyst. The panel represents decades of experience in covering military affairs and an intensive knowledge of the Middle East Region. The media panel convened in the Eisenhower Auditorium at 0830 on August 11, 2001.
The panel started with each member providing a brief overview of their work with the military after which they were led through a question and answer session. Topics ranged from the use of social media in news coverage to real or perceived bias in reporting and media savvy leaders to the relationships each reporter has with their editors. The overarching theme for the panel was the simple desire to gain access. One panel member commented that if the military member just returns the phone call or email it goes a long way to creating a positive response. When asked what advice they would give a Public Affairs Officer, the sentiment was the same…get us access to the people we ask to see, not those you want us to see.
Other key pointers that the panel provided were to always set the stage up front, by this I mean that the interviewee and the interviewer must determine before the interview begins what is “on the record”, “off the record”, and what is provided as background information and the definition of each based on their different perspectives. The lack of setting these clear guidelines is one of the reasons the panel believed some military officials get into “trouble” with reporters. Ultimately, as Mr. McIntyre said the media and military are “fenemies”. The media can be our friend or our enemy; they are there to report the story, which may not always be what the military views as a positive response.
After the two hour media panel each of the four participants visited with two staff sections to provide more insight into their views of military and the media. Although the panel did not have advance knowledge of our class preparation they hit on a number of topics that related directly for our assigned reading providing direct relevance to our classwork.
The media panel and the interaction they had with the students was insightful and an excellent way to start the year with quest speaker presentations.