Friday, May 16, 2014

We the Media

By Contributor Alec:

A long time ago or so it would seem, I was ‘introduced’ to an internet hero; a man of such calibre his words parted water and legions of men, women and Service Personnel walked in wonder at the very power of his images. 

Here was a man who spoke the truth, shared the same training and sand as the grunts, remfs, and every other girl and guy who wore a uniform in the service of their country, I am of course talking of Michael Yon.

 Now I’ve not met the guy, don’t really feel compelled to,  and I’m sure as anything, he wouldn’t want to meet me as I’m probably not his type, so I won’t continue the debate he started way back when the Tarnak Bridge episode was headline news (Where?) All I will say is this:  it confirmed to me the view to which I’ve always subscribed, no journalist, even though Yon would be quick to deny he is, should be anywhere near a war zone. 


 The words of journalists should never be enough to influence a group of inexperienced people, by that I mean people with no understanding of how the media can manipulate a situation to their advantage. 

The problem now is, with social media, we have ALL become a source, if not the media itself. This is something doing the rounds in the UK at the moment which, some of you may know about due to the sad loss of a number of US Marines in the firefight. 

 Take a look: Pictures appear to show RAF man posing with dead Taliban fighter

 The soldier pictured is allegedly, Sgt******** of the RAF Regiment, who had been awarded the Military Cross after he helped to fight off a group of insurgents who attacked Camp Bastion in September 2012. 

Sgt******** from ******** who was praised for breathing "fire into the spirit of his men", continued in the battle despite receiving a knee injury when a rocket-propelled grenade hit one of his vehicles. 

The RAF Regiment gunners’ aim was to reclaim control of the airfield, supported by a number of different direct fire weapons and co-ordinating the assault with members of ****** Battalion US Marine Corps, they moved methodically across the airfield engaging in various fire fights to deal with pockets of resistance over a period of four hours. 

 When a UK service person is deployed they are briefed before they leave the UK and in-theatre that it’s forbidden to take trophy photos. 

 One commentator on the subject had this to say “The people who should be on trial here is the tw*t who sold the photos to the news media, and the media themselves for publishing. This is NOT in the public's interest”. 

Most in general were of the same mind, but the point was missed completely, or maybe ignored? 

 At the end of the day, soldiers shouldn’t give anyone an excuse to question how they do their job, the media do not care about how many injuries they receive it doesn’t make money and the Politicians won't care because, with that one picture, they've lost the moral high ground to justify to the public why they sent soldiers in the first place. 

And that's after the enemy has wandered around remote villages showing the picture of a British soldier who murdered an innocent farmer killed, trying to protect his wife from the troops. 

Whoever took the photograph had unwittingly signed a conviction in a Courts Martial, not because they’d gone and ignored SRO’s, R of E or even the Geneva Convention, but because they had become a combat correspondent. 

The images first appeared on the website Live Leak thus proving that nobody can be trusted to keep such images to themselves, not even guys within the unit concerned. Why would anyone want to keep such images anyway? That’s an open floor question with no right or wrong answer.

 I’ll leave you with my take on it:  some nightmares aren’t confined to night, last a life time and some don’t need photographs to relive certain experiences. SRO’s, R of E and the Geneva Convention are the only fall-back position some may have for protection from an enemy lurking at home. 

So let’s all be careful what we say,  and produce an image of,  because whether we like it or not we’re all journalists now, even Michael Yon.

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