British Military Media Strategies: Afghanistan
This project examines, through analysis of the broader military media strategies affect British soldiers on the battleground, the issue of how these strategies shape soldiers narratives? In 2007, Tony Hall published a report which concluded that ‘the MOD cannot control the media: what it must do is to control its own narrative.’ As a result, the British military has recognised that it cannot manage the news media by focusing on restricting access and information during conflicts. Instead the military seems to be concentrating on minimising its own narrative(s) in an attempt to handle media output. This study examines issues like these from the military viewpoint, unlike the majority of military-media relationships, which are told from the media’s viewpoint. The primary objective of this project is thus, to shift the perspective from journalists to soldiers, from the media to the military. This shift of perspective will contribute to the understanding of the changing nature of the interrelations between the two professions. The aim is to approach the topic with an understanding of competing ideals between media accessibility and defence operational security. Moreover, the aim of this study is to deviate from the much discussed idea of embedded journalism and the supposed loss of objectivity, coming mainly from journalists themselves and from media institutions. New perspectives need to be explored and tested. The MOD has taken into use new measures, assuring that military personnel understand how to relate to and communicate with the news media, as several recently published internal notices and guidelines indicate. Moreover, military academies have developed media and communication courses to educate officers and soldiers in the function of the media. As a result of lessons from recent operations, the Defence Media Operations Centre was created in April 2005 to provide extensive media training and education within the defence community. Characteristics of modern warfare and communication technologies mean that the military is competing with mechanisms of war coverage that are continually evolving. The pressure is not only on journalists to communicate the changing nature of contemporary warfare, but is equally as much on the military to manage journalism that works to promote access and information in order to protect security and strategic decisions.