Panel: Media, military need better relations

Embedded journalists, coverage affect groups' views of each other

Panel: Media, military need better relations
MEDIA AND MILITARY MIX - Col. Dave Lapan, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Public Affairs Headquarters, "Reporting War" author Sharon Schmickle and reporter Darrin Mortenson discuss the relationship between the media and the military last night

It is crucial that the media and military members understand each other's roles as professionals to create better relations between the two groups, reporter Darrin Mortenson said yesterday during a panel discussion in Mary Graydon Center.

"Breaking down [the] initial barrier that we have an adverse relationship" would be one way to help unite the media and military, Mortenson said.

Additionally, the prevalence of journalists deployed with troops allows for journalists and Marines to re-examine the way they view one another, said Col. Dave Lapan, director of the U.S. Marine Corps Public Affairs Headquarters.

"'Walk a mile in my moccasins' can be seen both ways," he said.

However, the embedment of journalists also results in a natural tension emerging between the two groups, Lapan said.

"Journalists are taught to question and the military is taught the exact opposite," he said. "Our general perception of media in the Marine Corps [is that they are] liberal - at the same time a lot of people consider the Marine Corps as a conservative organization."

Michelle Brady, a freshman in the School of International Service, said it is hard to determine whether or not journalists should be embedded with troops.

"If it's going to hurt national security, military or someone's son out there, [the decision to embed] should be judged on a case by case basis," Brady said.

Providing reporters with military training before allowing them to embed with soldiers could be one way to smooth relations between the two groups, Mortenson said.

"Having prior military experience helps a lot," he said. "I think there should be a lot of in-house training before we ship people off - have meetings and seminars."

Diana Hill, a freshman in the School of Communication, said to a point it makes sense to embed journalists with the military.

"Journalists should be more aware [and] get military experience," Hill said.

Along with the topic of embedded journalists, the decrease in the amount of international news covered in America was discussed.

There is a disconnect between the general American public and overseas events, according to Sharon Schmickle, reporter and author of "Reporting War."

"If we all felt that we had a direct personal stake, we would have more enduring coverage," she said. "If the American public were demanding more coverage, I think they would get it."

The disconnect could also be caused by the media's conflicted sense of priorities, Lapan said.

"We are competing with the Britney or the Hollywood story of the day," he said.

Changes in what news interests Americans cannot be blamed on a lack of coverage, but rather on American culture, according to Charly Arnolt, a sophomore in SOC.

"People care more about Britney Spears than the war," Arnolt said. "Shallowness is sweeping the nation"

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