The UK Military and the Media

I have written previously on the military’s unwillingness and/or inability to connect with the fourth estate and its failure to embrace the workings of social media and do not intend to cover the same old ground again in any detail here. Suffice to say that the nub of the problem seems to be, to me anyway, that the military likes to operate on a “need to know” basis whilst the media works on a diametrically opposite ethic – the public has a right to know.

Previously, the military had a stranglehold over much of the reporting of military matters because it controlled communications from conflicts in which it was engaged. The Falklands War of 1982 is a classic example. However, the advent of mobile phones and social media broke that hold decisively. Now anyone can report from anywhere, and military personnel of all ranks are avid users of social media. I think this is exactly as it should be in a liberal democracy.

I don’t actually think publishing non-op stuff is really that important, and possibly much of what is published anonymously may relate to the glacial pace of MoD media comms practices. I mean, if the information is to hand why not release it immediately? In our brave new world of rolling news 24/7 the public has become used to instantaneous news when and where they want it, and perhaps the MoD’s media communications attitudes and practices need to come into the 21st century, dragged screaming and biting if need be.

Finally, it seems to me that the military has only half-embraced social media. It sees it still as a one-way conduit for information promulgation; in other words, a send only medium. If you respond or try to engage in any way with what is being put out there is little chance of a reply. If you don’t believe me try it for yourself, but I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a response.


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