Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, a major criticism of the press coverage has been that it focuses entirely on the violence and ignores all the positive achievements accomplished by US forces. Car bombs and shootings grab headlines while stories about the opening of new schools and hospitals are relegated to the trash bin.
Michael Fumento, one of those critics, seems to have gained a new insight into the press' coverage in Iraq:
I personally have repeatedly scored the MSM for wanting to write about nothing but The Car Bomb of the Day and ignoring hearts-and-minds projects. Now I realize that while the MSM still deserve scorn, perhaps things aren't quite as black and white as I thought. In preparing my article on my recent embed that will be appearing in next week's Weekly Standard I sought to get information on such projects in the Zabul Region of Afghanistan directly from the Provincial Reconstruction Team or PRT. Zabul's PRT is run by the Air Force. Here's what transpired:
Can you send me a few questions and the angle you're leaning toward for your story? From there, I can set up an interview with the PRT commander or our lead civil affairs person. Thanks!
Capt. Bob Everdeen
PRT Qalat, Afghanistan
I did so, then said the responses could be by e-mail or phone, whichever was easiest for them. I calculated it would take 20 minutes or less for them to provide a response by either means. Days went by. Now here's the rest of the correspondence:
I've learned what I can about PRT Zabul from the Internet, but it would be a lot better to get the highlights from your people. That said, with or without I've got to turn this piece in tomorrow.
Sorry about the delayed response; unfortunately, I will not be able to get you information this time. Thank you.
Dear Cpt. Everdeen:
So much for military complaints that the media only focus on explosions and
killings while ignoring hearts and minds projects. It appears the mainstream
media aren't as blameworthy in this regard as I thought. Unconventional wars
are won or lost as much in the media as on the battlefield; it's unfortunate
that the Air Force apparently doesn't realize that. As someone who sees
this war as something to be won, I will be writing about this.
And so I have.
Every other segment of the military has suffered from understaffing. I guess the public relations departments are similarly understaffed. At the risk of sounding cliche, I guess Halliburton doesn't offer media relations services.
I allways found it odd that they didn't broadcast some of the footage we saw on AFN (Armed-forces network) while I was on deployment- there was a lot of 'human intrest' stories on everything from a musical band that played its first legal concert in however many years, to a girl being accepted into a school that had been, up to that point, illegal for girls to attend.