Saturday, October 22, 2005

Another Case of Media Inaccuracy

In an article titled “Will Aid Effort After Asia Quake Help U.S. Image?” ABC News discusses the US’ involvement in relief efforts in Pakistan. The article starts off with:

With thousands of survivors of the Asia earthquake still in desperate need, the United States is keenly aware there is an opportunity not only to save lives, but also to refashion an image very much in need of repair.

A few paragraphs later comes this:

An ABC News team traveled on a Chinook helicopter with American soldiers diverted from the war in Afghanistan, as they delivered tents and blankets to people trapped in the Himalayan Mountains.

"It's been great," said C.W.O. Scott Dillion. "I have actually shaken hands with more people in the last three days than I have in the last three years."

"The Chinook helicopters are usually used to bomb al Qaeda but now they are being used to save people's lives, so they have become birds of peace, and that is marvelous," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a political commentator and professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. "It so changes the view of America in Pakistan."

Okay, for the uninitiated, a Chinook is a transport helicopter, not an attack helicopter. For Chinooks to be bombing things, the crew chief or flight engineer would have to be lobbing bombs off the back ramp or out the side doors...an amusing image, for sure. I mean, they definitely throw humanitarian aid out the back occasionally, but bombs...um not anymore. [There was an attack model back in the Vietnam-era:

The ACH-47A Chinook Guns-A-Go-Go, with a crew of eight, was armed with up to five M2 .50 Cal. or M60D 7.62mm machine guns and two fixed-mounted XM34 M24A1 20mm cannon and two M18/M18A1 pod-mounted 7.62mm miniguns, or two XM159B/XM159C 19-tube 2.75 inch rocket launchers, and a chin-mounted 40mm automatic grenade launcher on the M5 armament subsystem.They also featured added armor protection for the crew and some critical components. They proved to be effective in the combat assault role, but were involved in several accidents and were difficult to maintain.]

I don’t know which is worse, that ABC’s chosen “expert” commentator, Mr. Hoodbhoy doesn’t know that Chinooks are transporters, or that ABC didn’t bother to correct that quote later.

Also…what’s so bad about bombing al Qaeda? I mean, bombing al Qaeda is giving us a bad image in Pakistan? What is that saying? Is this a part of the aforementioned "image very much in need of repair"?

Some might think this is a small issue, but it isn’t. This is just an inaccuracy that I can catch with my limited military knowledge (oh, boy, my boyfriend will be grinning with pride right now). However, what about the inaccuracies that fly under the radar of most of us?

It reminds me of something a friend of mine wrote while serving in Iraq, about the problems inaccuracy in the media causes for reporters’ relations with the soldiers they are reporting on:

In post-war Iraq, reporters show very little interest in getting a story right to a T. "Close enough" reporting is the norm. After all, does the American public really care if CNN calls a Bradley Fighting Vehicle an M1? Or if there were 13 detainees taken instead of 10? The American public probably doesn't care and the story is close enough to not be called a lie. These minor deficiencies in the facts are important however because they show a lack of scholarship on the reporters' behalf.

Soldiers like to see themselves on TV but they also like to see things broadcast correctly. When things are incorrect, it feeds their belief that the reporters are reporting only what they want to report. This lessens soldiers' overall hospitality towards the media and -- given enough time -- causes them to leave camera crews standing in the motorpool.


Nota Bene: I am also not sure about the quoted soldier's rank: C.W.O. This is obviously an abbreviation of Chief Warrant Officer, however I don't believe the military writes the rank like that. The correct form would be CW2, CW3, CW4 etc, depending on his rank or just plain writing Chief Warrant Officer if you weren't sure of the rank. But the reporter just making up their own abbreviation is another example of an ignorance of all things military.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jen said...

"News" anymore is becoming more synonymous with gossip loosely based on fact than it is true, factual information.

And I had to laugh about the inference that bombing al Qaeda is a bad thing. Like is the same sentiment felt towards insurgents when they strap bombs to their chest and blow up innocent civilians?

2:58 PM  
Blogger Homefront Six said...

I"m sure dh will be thrilled to know that he know qualifies as an attack helicopter pilot!

Idiots.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I helped my husband study for hours for his vehicle identification tests, so I am decent at tracked vehicles and quite capable at helicopters. Last year I remember distinctly an article on the MSN main page that was all about the Apache, and they clearly showcased a large photo of a Blackhawk. I say the same thing often: if I'm knowledgeable enough to spot the gaffs, think about what people with real know-how could tear apart!

9:58 PM  
Blogger Sminklemeyer said...

i saw that and chuckled. they don't do a very good job with military facts

10:29 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

You realize that I now have an image of my son throwing bombs out the back of his aircraft... ROFLMAO.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Household6 said...

Either that or the pilot opening the window while flying and dropping them out the side like folks drop a ciggie butt...LOL

HH6

10:23 AM  

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